Throat Infection: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

April 30, 2024

Throat Infection: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
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A physical examination of the throat is required to make the diagnosis. Throat infections are most commonly caused by viruses, but they can also be caused by bacteria, such as streptococcal bacteria. A physical examination of the throat is required to make the diagnosis. A throat infection can cause itchy, painful throat pain during swallowing and swollen, red tonsils. Medications for streptococcal infections include antibiotics, while analgesics reduce discomfort. Surgery may be required occasionally to remove the tonsils. Although it affects people of all ages, children are most commonly affected by strep throat. 

Continue reading to find out more about throat infections, their signs and symptoms, causes, and available treatments.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a throat infection?
  2. Types of throat infection
  3. Symptoms of throat infection
  4. Causes of throat infection
  5. Treatment
  6. Conclusion
  7. Frequently asked questions

What is a Throat Infection?

A bacterial or viral infection can cause a throat infection, often known as pharyngitis. Inflammation of the throat’s tissues results in redness, discomfort, and swelling of the throat’s structures. Food is sent to the oesophagus and air is transported to the windpipe through the throat, or pharynx. Nasal or oral routes can be used to assess a throat infection. While bacteria can also cause some of these infections, viruses account for the majority of them. The infamous and excruciating ailment known as strep throat is brought on by streptococcal bacteria.

Pain and a feeling of heat in the throat are the most typical symptoms of a throat infection. The tonsils in particular may be impacted, among other throat structures. From mild to severe, symptoms can include fever, coughing, congestion, and other flu-like symptoms such as body pains. Additionally, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck are a possibility. A tonsillitis diagnosis may be made by certain medical professionals if the infection is limited to the tonsils.

Types of Throat Infection 

A throat infection can be categorised into three types

  • VIRAL PHARYNGITIS: The most frequent infectious cause of a sore throat is a viral infection of the throat, often called viral pharyngitis. Inflammation is triggered by it, and it could potentially cause cold symptoms.
  • TONSILLITIS: Tonsillitis is a severe form of pharyngitis that can be brought on by either a viral or bacterial infection. Pain, redness, swelling, and a buildup of pus or debris in the tonsils are all signs of tonsillitis.

  • STREP/BACTERIAL PHARYNGITIS: Bacterial infections are not common causes of throat infections. However, group A Streptococcus bacteria are responsible for the majority of these bacterial infections, and the painful throat that results from them is usually referred to as “strep throat.” A pus-filled tonsil or throat is a common sign of bacterial pharyngitis. 

Symptoms of Throat Infection

Symptoms of different types of throat infections are frequently identical. Among them are:

  • Soreness throughout body
  • Coughing up mucus that is clear, yellow, light brown, or green
  • Trouble swallowing 
  • Sore throat or congestion
  • Swollen tonsils or lymph nodes
  • Fever and chills
  • White or pus-covered tonsils 
  • Hoarseness
  • Nasal congestion

Depending on the infection’s cause and severity, you could or might not have all of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms has the potential to get worse occasionally.

Causes of Throat Infection

The most common cause of throat infection is a viral illness, such as the flu or the common cold. The following illnesses or problems may be indicated by sore throats:

  • BACTERIAL INFECTION: Throat infection can result from bacterial infections, such as strep throat and bacterial sinus infections.
  • ALLERGIES: Another major cause of throat infection is allergies. The throat might get scratchy and dry due to an allergic reaction to mold, dust mites, pollen, or pets. Throat infections from post nasal drip or the dropping of nasal mucus down the back of the throat are caused by allergies. The throat becomes painful and irritated due to the mucus.
  • TONSILLITIS: The two tiny lumps of soft tissue at the back of your throat are called tonsils, and they are the source of tonsillitis. The pathogenic microbes are captured by them. The result of an infected and inflamed tonsil is tonsillitis which can be caused by both bacteria and viruses.
  • ACID REFLUX: Patients suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) experience throat pain and burning which can mimic prime symptoms of throat infection. Acid reflux from the stomach causes this sensation, known as heartburn when it backs up into your oesophagus.
  • VIRUSES: A virus is responsible for 80% of instances of throat infection. These kinds of viruses are usually spread by direct physical touch or by coughing, sneezing, or through communication.


When treated promptly, most throat infections can be cured or resolved on their own over time.

A throat culture will be prescribed if the physician determines a throat infection. This will be used by your doctor to determine the source of your infection. The line of treatment will consist of:

  • ANTIBIOTICS: A bacterial illness is treated primarily with antibiotic therapy, which is also quite successful. Adhering strictly to the treatment plan and taking all prescribed drugs on time will help prevent reinfection or recurrence.
  • PAIN RELIEVERS: In addition to reducing inflammation or temperature, pain medications can assist relieve discomfort. They are available in liquid, lozenge, or spray form.
  • ANTIVIRAL MEDICINES for SPECIFIC VIRUSES: Antiviral drug treatment may be beneficial for certain viral causes of throat infections.
  • SURGERY: An infection of the throat that has spread to the tonsils is called tonsillitis. Surgery to remove the tonsils is one way to treat tonsillitis. 
  • ENVIRONMENTAL ALTERATIONS: By altering their surroundings, people with viral throat infections may find that their symptoms subside. These include limiting exposure to cigarette smoke and using a humidifier to lessen dryness in the air.


Infections of the throat are typically caused by viruses or bacteria. Infectious mononucleosis, the flu, and strep throat can all be causes of throat infections. Similar symptoms, such as redness and swelling in the throat, as well as trouble swallowing and speaking, can be caused by any kind of throat infection.

When experiencing symptoms of throat infection, it’s critical to get medical attention. While some infections resolve on their own, tonsillitis and other problems can result from untreated throat infections.

Certain pain medications or antibiotics may be prescribed by doctors. Moreover, some at-home treatments like ice chip sucking, humidifier use, and lozenges can be performed to cure throat infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I see a doctor if I have a throat infection?

See your physician if any of the following apply to you: 

  • Have a fever lasting longer than one or two days, above 101°F (38.3°C).
  • Experiencing difficulty falling asleep as a result of the symptoms.
  • Observing a red rash.
  • Experiencing white spots on your tonsils or at the back of your throat.
  • Receiving treatment for a throat infection, but the mild symptoms continue to reoccur.

2. When to get additional advice for a viral throat infection?

It’s advisable to consult a doctor if you or your child exhibit any signs of a viral throat infection. Viral throat infections are not harmful as such on their own, but they can resemble other conditions that also cause sore throats. To determine whether there is another, more serious reason for your symptoms, your doctor can examine you, conduct testing, and/or imaging, and then recommend the best course of action.

3. How long will it take for a sore throat to go away?

A virus-induced throat infection usually manifests as a progressive infection that lasts two to seven days.

4. How can I avoid getting a throat infection?

There are several strategies to reduce your chances of getting a throat infection. 

  • Personal items like food, utensils, cups, or glasses should not be shared with others.
  • Ventilating work and residential areas as much as feasible.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Applying sanitizers on phones, keyboards, remotes, and other shared surfaces.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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