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Chronic sore throat is usually due to continuous irritation, and occurs commonly among smokers or those who live in high pollution areas. Those who use their voices regularly for long periods, such as singers, may also develop a chronic sore throat if the voice is not rested properly between performances. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections can also cause a long-term sore throat, often as a result of a secondary infection. Additional causes may include allergies and acid reflux.
Unlike viral or bacterial causes of sore throat, irritants like tobacco smoke or pollutants can cause throat irritation which persists for weeks, months, or even years if the irritants are continuously present. Smokers may endure chronic sore throat because smoke and chemicals are constantly being inhaled into the throat and nasal cavities and irritating the sensitive tissues there. Pollution in the air is another common cause, and is most commonly a problem in areas with high volumes of smog.
Singing or yelling can also lead to chronic sore throat, and is typically longer lasting in those who use their voices regularly. This may occur in singers who do not properly warm up or who attempt too many performances in a short period of time. Throat irritation caused by strain can be remedied by refraining from singing, yelling, or excessive talking. Sometimes throat sprays or honey added to warm tea may also be beneficial.
HIV infection often leads to chronic sore throat, generally from thrush or another viral infection. Since those with HIV have weakened immune systems in more advanced cases, it may be harder to get rid of infections which cause sore throat. Treatment with an over the counter pain reliever as well as taking immune enhancing medications or vitamins may help.
Allergies can also cause chronic sore throat for numerous reasons. For one, they can lead to dry and irritated breathing passages when allergens are inhaled via the mouth. This is similar to the way in which pollutants or cigarette smoke irritate the throat. Secondly, post-nasal drip can aggravate the tonsils and lead to severe swelling and pain. Allergy medications may help to alleviate symptoms.
Acid reflux may cause chronic sore throat due to stomach acid being pushed into the throat. In severe cases, this can lead to damage of the esophagus and persistent burning and pain. Medications and sometimes surgery may be needed to alleviate the stomach acid and stop pain.