What is Swollen Throat?
Swollen throat is an indication or a symptom of some underlying medical condition. Swelling in the throat accompanied by soreness is due to a medical condition known as pharyngitis. Other than a swollen throat, patient also suffers from scratchiness of the throat, swollen tonsils and painful swallowing. Many times, a sore throat is not a serious condition and often resolves on its own. A sore throat accompanied with a swollen throat can be an indicative of another illness such as strep throat or flu.
What are the Causes of Swollen Throat?
Viral infection is the common cause of most of the swollen throat accompanied by soreness. Common viruses which cause a swollen and a sore throat are influenza virus, common cold virus and mononucleosis. Lesser common viruses are chickenpox and measles.
Bacterial infections can also cause swollen throats. Strep throat is the most common bacterial infection which causes a swollen throat and a sore throat. Other bacterial infections which cause swollen throat are diphtheria and tonsillitis. Both bacteria and viruses enter through the mouth and nose from airborne pathogens or after coming in contact with an infected person. Other causes of swollen throat include pollution, allergies, dry air, HIV infection and tumors.
What are the Other Associated Symptoms of Swollen Throat?
Other than swelling in the throat, patient can also experience soreness, scratchiness, dryness and pain with swallowing, breathing and talking. Additional symptoms which indicate an underlying illness include headache, vomiting, rash, runny nose, inability to swallow, fever and cough. Patient also has inflammation of the pharynx and tonsils. Seek immediate medical attention if the swollen throat is accompanied by increased fever of more than 101 degrees F, increased skin redness/red rash, presence of pus in the back of the throat, labored breathing, severe difficulty in swallowing, or tender and swollen lymph glands.
What is the Treatment of Swollen Throat?
Antibiotics are prescribed if the swollen throat is caused by bacteria. The complete course of antibiotics should be taken, even if swollen throat and other symptoms subside.
For swollen throat occurring as a result of viral infection, there is no particular medication. Treatment consists of rest and lot of fluids. The viral infection causing swollen and sore throat commonly resolves on its own in about 10 days. However, swelling and soreness in the throat caused by mononucleosis can last for more than a month.
Patient can alleviate symptoms of swollen throat, discomfort and pain by sucking on throat lozenges, gargling with warm salt water and taking a pain reliever.
How to Prevent a Swollen Throat?
Frequent hand washing is the best method for preventing a swollen throat.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid sharing drinks and utensils with others.
- Regularly disinfecting items such as door handles and telephones also prevents infections which cause swollen throat.
- Avoid staying outdoors on days which have high pollution.
- Installing a humidifier in your home also helps.
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