What Causes Throat Inflammation?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Throat inflammation can be caused by a throat infection such as strep throat, allergies, and postnasal drip. In addition, pharyngitis, an inflammation of the pharynx, can cause also cause throat inflammation. Typically, throat inflammation is temporary, however, certain conditions such as a seasonal allergy can contribute to chronic throat inflammation. Acid reflux can also cause inflammation of the throat because stomach acid is highly irritating to the sensitive tissues in the throat.

Before treatment can begin for throat inflammation, the cause needs to be determined. When a bacteria infection is present, antibiotics are typically the treatment of choice. For example, strep throat is caused by a bacteria and usually requires antibiotic treatment. After the entire course of antibiotics have been consumed, throat inflammation typically subsides. When strep is the offending organism, patients need to make sure they have finished all their medication to prevent rheumatic fever, a strep complication.

When post nasal drip causes throat inflammation, antihistamines can be helpful in stopping mucus from dripping down the throat. Antihistamines, however, cause dry mouth, drowsiness, and urinary retention. They should only be used on a temporary basis, and never in combination with other medications unless approved by the physician. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications are frequently recommended for inflammation of the throat to help with swelling and to relieve pain.


Certain allergic reactions can cause throat inflammation. Rarely, these allergic reactions can cause a life-threatening condition in which the throat closes up completely. This is sometimes seen in those who have peanut allergies or those who allergic to shellfish. In these patients, emergency treatment is warranted to reduce the risk of a respiratory arrest. People who have life-threatening allergies sometimes carry medication that can help reduce allergic risks when taken at the first sign of a reaction.

Keeping the throat moist with non-caffeinated beverages can help reduce inflammation and irritation. Tea with honey and nectars are good choices, as is plain water. Caffeinated beverages can cause mild dehydration, dry up throat tissues and contribute to pain and swelling of the throat. Dissolving a throat lozenge, cough drop, or a piece of hard candy can soothe an irritated, inflamed throat and minimize the risk of difficulty swallowing.

Other than pain and difficulty swallowing, an inflamed throat frequently has other characteristics. These include a deep red color, and sometimes red or white spots. The white spots are typically caused by a bacterial infection and the accumulation of pus and other debris that gets trapped in the tonsils. In addition, tonsillitis or inflammation of the tonsils is often present. Although home and natural remedies can help, a health care provider needs to evaluate an inflamed throat to determine an appropriate treatment plan.


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