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throat infection

Throat Infection: Unraveling Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Dr. Atul Kumar Mittal Apr 02, 2024


Did you wake up from sleep and start feeling soreness or irritation in the throat? Ah! Is it a sign of infection? The answer is yes. A throat infection is a prevalent ailment that leads to discomfort in an individual’s throat. It can also make it hard to swallow and talk. Read on to learn about the causes, diagnosis, and possible treatment options for a throat infection.

What Causes Throat Infections?

Throat infections are the result of an array of causes, including:

  1. Allergic Reactions

  • Allergic triggers can hinder the throat and impact the individual’s immune system, leading to a chemical reaction and congestion in the throat. 
  • Allergens, such as pollen, grass, etc., can lead to allergic reactions in the throat.
  • Individuals generally discover what they are allergic to over time and avoid such situations where they become vulnerable to infection. 
  • For individuals facing an allergic reaction to some pet or flower, it is better to avoid them altogether.
  1. Environmental Irritants

  • Smoke, dust, and chemicals in the air are easily inhalable, getting inside the body and messing up the entire immune system. The throat is a part of the respiratory system that becomes victim to such reactions and weakens, leading to dryness and infection.
  • Cigarette smokers are prone to throat infections, but non-smokers breathing in cigarette smoke are more at risk as they are passive smokers.
  • Individuals from urban areas visit the ENT more often because of the constant exposure to pollutants, especially by 2-wheeler commuters. 
  • Compulsory usage of masks following the coronavirus pandemic significantly reduced the inhalation of pollutants.
  • Individuals working with complex chemicals and cleaning workers inhale a significant amount of deadly chemicals into their bodies, making them prone to throat infections.
  1. Bacterial Infections

  • Such infections are typically caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus.
  • It can quickly spread from one individual to another. 
  • The transmission primarily occurs due to individuals encountering secretions of someone with an infection (droplet infection). 
  • As the bacteria is highly contagious, a healthy individual can only avoid individuals suffering from infection by washing their hands regularly.
  1. Sinus Infection

  • Viruses, fungi, and bacteria infect the hollow cavities in the skull, leading to sinus infections. 
  • The accumulated mucus can flow down to the back of the throat, leading to critical throat pain.
  1. Viral Infection

  • Viruses cause 40–60% of throat infections. 
  • Complaints of throat infection have risen since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and it is an impact of the coronavirus.
  • Many other viruses can also cause throat infections, such as Rhinovirus and Adenovirus, which are causative agents for the flu or common cold, and others, such as parainfluenza virus, herpes simplex virus, etc. 
  • Viral infections are particularly challenging as they are difficult to treat and last for a longer duration of time because of their immense impact on the immune system.
  1. Acid Reflux

  • Another common condition that can cause recurrent throat infections is acid reflux disease. 
  • Belching, foreign body sensation in the throat, frequent changes in voice, and a tendency to frequently clear the throat can also accompany this condition. 

Diagnosis of Throat Infection

  • Physical Examination: Healthcare professionals identify a throat infection by viewing the throat. However, because the throat often looks the same in viral and bacterial infections, it is tough for healthcare professionals to analyze whether the cause is a viral or bacterial infection just by looking at the throat. 
  • Throat Swab: Because strep throat needs antibiotics, it must be recognized. To test for it, healthcare professionals swab the individual’s throat and do tests to identify streptococcus bacteria.

Treatments for Throat Infection

  1. Home Remedies

  • Honey: Drinking tea or lukewarm lemon water mixed with honey can soothe a sore throat. It is utilized for those who can’t take conventional cold medicines. Honey is the best way to relieve a sore throat and cough. 
  • Saltwater Gargle: Gargling with salt water can effectively help soothe a sore throat and break down secretions. Make a saltwater solution by putting half a spoon of salt in a filled glass of warm water. 
  • Peppermint: It is known for its capability to freshen the breath. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and specific antibacterial and antiviral properties. Peppermint also consists of the compound methanol, which aids in thinning mucus and calms sore throats and coughs.   
  • Slippery Elm: It also comprises mucilage. When combined with water, slippery elm forms a smooth gel that coats and soothes the throat. It is a conventional therapy for sore throat.  
  • Steam and Humidity: Inhaling steam can aid in easing a sore throat. Add boiled water to a bowl, drape a towel over the head, and breathe normally, letting the steam enter the mouth and nose. Do this for 10–15 minutes. 
  1. Medications

  • Analgesics administered orally, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), often aid in decreasing pain in individuals with a throat infection. 
  • If symptoms are severe, some healthcare professionals also provide a single dose of dexamethasone (a corticosteroid), given by mouth or injection. Dexamethasone may shorten the duration of symptoms and relieve pain, enabling individuals to eat more. It may also aid in lessening airway blockage caused by inflammation. However, some healthcare professionals do not utilize dexamethasone or any corticosteroid because corticosteroids can have harmful side effects.
  • Lozenges and sprays with benzocaine, phenol, or lidocaine can lessen the pain. They need to be utilized repeatedly. However, their overdose can be harmful. Also, they often impact the taste buds.
  • Individuals suffering from a strep infection are given an antibiotic, generally penicillin or amoxicillin.

In case of persisting throat infection, individuals must seek medical care to avoid further complications.


Hospitals: Cancer Hospital in DelhiBest Heart Hospital in DelhiHospital in AmritsarHospital in LudhianaHospitals in MohaliHospital in FaridabadHospitals in GurgaonBest Hospital in JaipurHospitals in Greater NoidaHospitals in NoidaBest Kidney Hospital in KolkataBest Hospital in KolkataHospitals in Rajajinagar BangaloreHospitals in Richmond Road BangaloreHospitals in Nagarbhavi BangaloreHospital in Kalyan WestHospitals in Mulund

Doctors: Dr. Rana PatirDr. Rajesh BennyDr. Rahul Bhargava | Dr. Jayant AroraDr. Anoop MisraDr. Manu TiwariDr. Praveer AgarwalDr. Arup Ratan DuttaDr. Meenakshi AhujaDr. Anoop JhuraniDr. Shivaji BasuDr. Subhash JangidDr. Atul MathurDr. Gurinder BediDr. Monika WadhawanDr. Debasis DattaDr. Shrinivas NarayanDr. Praveen GuptaDr. Nitin JhaDr. Raghu Nagaraj 

Specialities: Heart Lung TransplantOrthopedic 

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Meet the doctor

Dr. Atul Kumar Mittal
  • ENT | ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat)
  • Date 30 Years
  • INR 1800

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