The burning throat is a trivial matter and you should not imagine the worst. In fact, instead of booking an appointment with the doctor, you could probably try some of the popular homemade sore throat remedies.
Viral Infections such as cold, strep throat, swollen tonsils are common reasons why your throat is burning and itchy.
However, if the burning sensation lasts longer than usual and keeps recurring, it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Even though these conditions may not be dangerous, you might need medical diagnosis and treatment.
Here are five reasons why your throat could be burning if it’s not due to the common cold.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Commonly known as acid reflux, GERD causes serious heartburn, sore throat, metallic taste in the mouth, and bad breath. GERD occurs when the stomach acid rises through the esophageal opening into the tube and back in your throat. The milder version is known as acid reflux, while the severe and chronic form is called GERD. Symptoms usually worsen after a meal of spicy and hot food.
Effective treatment to cure sore throat due to acid reflux includes:
- Elevating head while sleeping
- Eating three hours before bedtime
- Avoiding acid-producing foods, such as spicy food, alcohol, chocolate tomato, etc.
- Quit smoking.
- Ingestion of anti-acids like proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers.
Severe cases of GERD can have extreme symptoms such as coughing, hoarse throat, breathlessness, vomiting, and fatigue. Consult a gastroenterologist if your symptoms worsen over time.
Upper airway cough syndrome or postnasal drip occurs when the mucus that forms in your nose and sinuses drain into your throat.
The most common symptom of post nasal drip is a constant irritating sensation of something passing into your throat. The constant dripping eventually wells your tonsils thereby producing a sore and burning sensation.
The causes of postnasal drip could be a respiratory infection, sinus infection, anatomic defects of the nasal pipe, allergy, or just the cold weather.
Nasal-drip can also occur due to the over-usage of certain decongestants.
Other symptoms of postnasal drip include coughing, runny nose, excessive mucus, bad breath, congestion, tickling throat, and hoarseness.
Addressing the root cause is usually the preferred course of treatment, such as prescribing antibiotics for a bacterial infection, along with antihistamine, decongestant, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
You may probably develop esophagitis if you have GERD and you don’t address the disease in time. Both GERD and esophagitis are interlinked. The condition happens when the stomach acid keeps coming back to your throat, causing irritation, esophageal passage soreness, and inflammation. This further causes a burning sensation, and pain and difficulty in swallowing food.
Other symptoms include bleeding (stool or vomit), heartburn, and a sensation of something stuck in your throat.
Other causes of esophagitis, apart from acid reflux, are certain viral/bacterial infections, cancer radiation treatment in the neck area, medical and chemical ingestions, such as drain cleaners, and allergic reaction to food.
Doctors will identify and treat the underlying cause to eliminate the symptoms of esophagitis. For instance, if it is due to GERD, then you will be advised to take anti-acids or lifestyle changes. If it is due to food allergy, your doctor will ask you to stop consuming the food and prescribe a course of steroid medication for inflammation and pain reliever.
Mononucleosis is a viral infection, spread by the Epstein-Barr virus through body fluids, like saliva. It is a highly contagious illness.
It is a common illness among teenagers in the US according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, and since the virus spreads via the saliva, it is also called ‘the kissing disease’.
If you get Mono once, you will be immune to the EBV for the rest of your life.
Symptoms of Mono include sore and burning throat, fever, headache, night sweats, weak muscles, swollen tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes around the neck.
Since there is no specific treatment for viral infections, your doctor may try to reduce the symptoms with medications, such as acetaminophen and corticosteroid. The symptoms will subside on its own with ample rest and hydration.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
The common symptoms of burning mouth syndrome are burning sensation in the tongue, lips, gums, and throat, dry mouth, metallic taste, and hoarseness. The illness is caused by no underlying medical condition. But since it is a complex and long-lasting problem, it requires medical intervention and accurate treatment.
Treatment is challenging and may require multiple physical examinations and blood tests to rule out other causes of burning throat first before prescribing anything.
While a primary physician can diagnose most of the above conditions, you might need the involvement of specialists, such as ENT specialist or a gastroenterologist for severe cases.