Causes of a sore throat

The cause of a sore throat isn't always obvious. Butin most cases it's a symptom of a viral or bacterialinfection.

Common causes

A sore throatis often a symptom of:

  • colds or flu you may also havea blocked or runny nose, a cough , a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches
  • laryngitis (inflammation of thevoice box)you may also havea hoarse voice, a dry cough and a constant need to clear your throat
  • tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) you may also have red or spotty tonsils,discomfort when swallowing and a fever
  • strep throat (a bacterial throat infection)you may also have swollen glands in your neck, discomfort when swallowing and tonsillitis
  • glandular fever you may also feel very tired and havea fever and swollen glands in your neck

It may also be caused by something irritating your throat, such as smoke, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (where acid leaks up from the stomach) and allergies .

Less common causes

Less often, a sore throat can be a sign of:

  • quinsy (a painful collection of pus at the back of the throat) the pain may be severe and you may also havedifficulty opening your mouthor difficulty swallowing
  • epiglottitis (inflammation ofthe flap of tissue at the back of the throat) the pain may be severe and you may havedifficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing

These conditions are more serious and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible (see below).

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018