There is nothing worse then being sick. Besides having your day and possibly week cut short, everything becomes a pain in the neck. From making food to simply getting up, these activities are fraught with new pains. While a headache, sinuses and even soreness can be dealt with, there is a re-occuring symptom of being sick that is universally dreaded and difficult to fix. That is the sore throat.
Having a sore throat when sick usually means that it hurts to swallow. With every gulp being a painful experience, having a sore throat is one of the leading symptoms that make being sick so bad. In addition, pain when swallowing can be indicative of a greater unaddressed problem. Knowing why and where it hurts as well as what you can do about it is the first step to dealing with this nuisance and making your life more manageable. Lets begin!
What kinds of painful swallowing are there?
It may not be common sense, but pains in swallowing can occur in many different parts of the throat, with each part representing something that could be wrong. This is because swallowing is both a voluntary and involuntary response. You can knowing start to swallow. However, once you begin to swallow, the process goes on by itself, involving any number of neurons and muscles. Because this is so complex, knowing where the pain is coming from can help to find a solution.
When does the pain occur? Does the pain occur only when you are chewing? What about the physical act of swallowing? Does swallowing without food cause no pain? If it does, then do you feel pain after swallowing, as the food moves down? Does the pain you feel include every part of this process?
What can cause painful swallowing?
Once you know the part of your throat that is being effected, you can use this information in part to find what the cause of the pain might be. A solution may depend on the cause. Lets break them down.
1. Pain while swallowing may be the result of an infection
Infections can effect all areas of the body, and are not limited in what they can do to the throat. Common infections that can cause swallowing pain include Herpes Simplex Virus, Gum Disease, Cytomegalovirus, HIV, Pharyngitus, and Thrust. Thrust is when a naturally occuring fungus called Candida overgrows in the mouth. Though a small amount normally exists there, too much can cause pain while swallowing.
2. Pain while swallowing may be the result of problems with the esophagus.
The esophagus is the muscular tube responsible for passing food from our mouth and throat to our stomach. Problems with the esophagus then can cause pain when swallowing and pain when food is moving through. Some common causes of pain while swallowing which are because of the esophagus include Achalasia, Esophageal spasms, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammation of the esophagus, the disorder known as nutcracker esophagus and Ulcers. If you believe you may be suffering from one of the above, then the problem may be persistent, and you should seek medical help.
3. Pain while swallowing may be a result of a tooth
Tooth pain can result from infection or an abscess. This pain will not only be felt when chewing, but may also be felt while swallowing, leading some to believe that it is not the tooth. If unsure, try moving each individual tooth, and see if you can create the pain by pressing on a tooth.
4. Pain while swallowing may be a result of something being stuck
There is a chance when eating that something can get stuck in either the throat or esophagus without us immediately knowing. A leading cause of this includes fish or chicken bones. When lodged in the throat, they may be difficult to get out, and can potentially cause soreness through infection.
5. Pain while swallowing and yawning may be a result of laryngitis
If you feel pain while swallowing, talking, or yawning, then the pain may be a result of laryngitis. In addition, allergies can cause pain to be felt in these conditions as well.
What can I do to treat the pain or reduce it?
Some causes of throat pain have to be specifically treated by a doctor to be cured, and may even pose a health risk until dealt with. Until then, there are a few things you can do to decrease the pain. The first is to drink plenary of water. This helps fight off infection as well as tonsillitis. Others have found relief gargling warm water with salt or apple cider vinegar. In addition, hard candies can be used to relieve pain. Finally, consume plenty of vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system.