Sore or Swollen Throat?

About Your Throat…

Generally speaking, your throat has two important pipes: the esophagus, which is the pipe that sends food from your mouth down to your stomach; and the trachea, which is the pipe that inhales oxygen down into your lungs and exhales carbon dioxide back out. The larynx or “voice box” is at the top of the trachea and it contains the vocal folds that vibrate when you pass air over them, enabling you to gab, giggle and sing karaoke. The epiglottis separates the food you eat from the trachea so your doughnuts and orange juice don’t end up in your lungs and make you sick. There are also lymph nodes in your throat, as well as the thyroid gland and those crazy tonsils.

Throat Symptoms

With all of those things and more in your throat, it is important to pay attention to the following symptoms:

Sore Throat

A sore throat is a very common symptom. Its most frequent causes include the common cold, the flu (or any number of other viruses), bacterial infections like strep, inflammation of various throat tissues such as tonsillitis, adenoiditis and laryngitis, post nasal drip from allergies or other colds, asthma, and the list goes on. It can even be a sign pointing to more serious problems including (rarely) sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or Chlamydia.

Inflammation due to the immune response from allergies, a cold, etc. causes pain in these tender mucus membranes and can also lead to hoarseness and pain when trying to talk or swallow.

Because there are so very many potential causes behind a sore throat, it is important to have your ENT check it out, particularly if the symptoms do not go away after a week, or are accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever and coughing.

Burning Throat

A burning sensation in the throat is often a sign of either Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Laryngo-Pharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPRD). GERD and/or LPRD happen when stomach acid backs up in the wrong direction, into your esophagus and sometimes even into the larynx, which is extremely sensitive to acid irritation. The burning can be accompanied by inflammation and hoarseness as well. Treatments usually include various antacids that help neutralize the acid.

Swelling in the Throat

Throat swelling can be an alarming symptom because the more the throat swells, the less space there is for breathing; so any swelling in the throat should be taken seriously and dealt with very quickly. In some cases, throat swelling comes from an allergic reaction to foods, bee stings or other allergens. People with a history of asthma and allergies should take care to avoid encounters with these allergens. Allergic individuals should also carry an EPI Pen or other emergency allergy treatment with them at all times because anaphylaxis can be fatal in a matter of moments. In less serious, but still concerning cases, swelling in the throat can be due to swelling from tonsillitis, adenoiditis or an enlarged thyroid gland, etc. If you feel swelling or lumps in your throat, schedule an appointment with your ENT as soon as possible for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Choking is seriously scary business. Take first aid training to learn how to save someone who is choking on something. Understand, however, that an inflamed thyroid gland can also give you a choking sensation when you aren’t actually choking on something. This is an alarming symptom, but your ENT can help.

Treatments and Solutions for Throat Problems

In the case of most sore throats, you can resolve them by treating the underlying cause. For example, strep throat requires a course of antibiotics. Post nasal drip irritation in the throat can be resolved with the appropriate allergy medications. Rest, gargling salt water, drinking plenty of fluids and sucking on a lozenge or two can help you get through until a virus resolves.

Nevertheless, if these symptoms do not go away after a reasonable time period (usually a week or so), or if they are accompanied by things like breathing difficulties, lumps in the throat, a fever or a nagging cough that will not abate, schedule an appointment today with Jersey Shore ENT Specialists. We can diagnose your throat symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment so you can sing loudly in the car again.

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