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Burning Throat: Causes and How to Treat Them

A burning throat is a common symptom of infections and other underlying medical conditions. It can occur on its own or alongside other symptoms.

In many cases, a person can treat a burning throat at home. Getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids are key for recovery.

In this article, find out about the possible causes of a burning throat and learn when to seek treatment. We also describe how to soothe the symptom with some simple home remedies.

Causes and treatment

There are many possible causes of a burning throat, including:

1. Colds and flu

A common cause of a burning throat is a cold or flu. Viruses cause these illnesses, which affect the respiratory, or breathing, system.

Common symptoms of a cold or flu include: a burning throat, a cough, a runny nose, aching muscles, tiredness, headaches.

The flu can cause complications, so anyone with serious symptoms should seek medical attention. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest pain, seizures, and dizziness.

Learn about the differences between the cold and the flu in this article.

2. Tonsillitis

The tonsils are lumps of tissue at the back of the throat that help fight off viruses and bacteria. Tonsillitis is an infection that makes the tonsils swell.

The infection usually causes: pain and discomfort in the throat, difficulty swallowing, red or swollen tonsils, headaches, tiredness, a fever, an earache.

Tonsillitis usually clears up within 1–2 weeks. People can treat it at home with plenty of rest, fluids, over-the-counter pain medications, and throat lozenges.

3. GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when the muscle connecting the esophagus, or food pipe, to the stomach becomes too weak or relaxed.

When the muscle is not tight enough, food or stomach acid can rise into the throat and sometimes into the back of the mouth.

The main symptom of GERD is heartburn. Other symptoms include: nausea, bad breath, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, a burning sensation in the throat.

Treatment often involves lifestyle changes, such as cutting rich or acidic foods from the diet. Some people require medication or surgery.

4. Strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes several painful symptoms.

Symptoms of strep throat may come on suddenly and include: a burning throat, pain when swallowing, a fever, headaches, nausea, red or swollen tonsils.

A doctor can diagnose strep throat by taking a throat swab and may prescribe antibiotics. A person should also get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids during recovery.

5. Mono

Infectious mononucleosis, more commonly known as mono, is a very contagious viral infection. Teenagers and young adults are most likely to get it.

Symptoms of the illness usually develop 4–6 weeks after contact with the virus. A painful or burning throat is an early symptom of mono.

Other symptoms include: fever, extreme tiredness, aching muscles, headaches, a rash.

It often takes 2–4 weeks to recover from mono, but some people have symptoms for months. Treatment involves resting, taking over-the-counter pain medications, and drinking plenty of fluids.

Mono spreads very easily. Doctors advise people who have it not to share foods, drinks, or toothbrushes and to avoid kissing.

Treatment at home is usually best for tonsillitis or a cold. Other conditions may require medication.

If a burning throat lasts for more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.

More serious symptoms can accompany a burning throat. If an adult has the flu and any of the following symptoms, they may need urgent medical attention: chest pain, dizziness, confusion, not urinating, extreme muscle pain, extreme weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures.

Adults over 65, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should seek medical advice if they have concerns about symptoms.

When to see a doctor

Treatment at home is usually best for tonsillitis or a cold. Other conditions may require medication.

If a burning throat lasts for more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.

More serious symptoms can accompany a burning throat. If an adult has the flu and any of the following symptoms, they may need urgent medical attention: chest pain, dizziness, confusion, not urinating, extreme muscle pain, extreme weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures.

Adults over 65, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should seek medical advice if they have concerns about symptoms.

Summary

Many infections and other conditions can cause a burning sensation in the throat, including colds, tonsillitis, and GERD.

Soothe the pain by keeping the throat moist and with other home remedies.

If symptoms are severe, or if home remedies are not enough to resolve them within a few weeks, see a doctor for a full diagnosis and treatment.

(11/18/2021)
by Medical News Today

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