Contributed by – Dr. Snehal Singh
Throat infection the very word brings the familiar and ugly memories of painful episodes of sore throat, constant discomfort, itchy or scratchy feeling in the throat. Throat problems spares no one.
Throat is the area that connects the face and the chest region and is present infront of the neck. There are various structures like larynx or windpipe, pharynx or food pipe, thyroid gland, tonsils and blood vessels present in this region.
Throat problems might seem ordinary but what really is important is to understand that these episodes of throat infections can sometimes indicate towards some really serious health problems. Throat problems are fairly common and are caused due to problems in the throat.
Diseases Related To Throat
Let us understand some of the common diseases related to throat.
Sore throat is very common and is experienced by most people. Sore throat is often caused by allergies, infections or mouth breathing. It is synonym to irritation in throat, redness, throat pain and cough. While some people use home remedies to manage sore throat if it does not heal soon, medical treatment is required.
Throat infection is often caused by bacterial infection with Streptococci. Throat pain, cough and difficulty in swallowing are common symptoms of throat infection. It may also cause fever, body aches and swollen lymph nodes in the affected area. Throat infection often needs treatment with antibiotics. Other infections like dengue, too can cause throat pain along with other symptoms. Tests for dengue and other specific infections is done based on the symptoms and the diagnosis is confirmed.
Inflammation or swelling of the larynx (voice box) can cause sore throat, difficult in speaking or swallowing and hoarseness of voice. Cough and croup also leads to throat problems and need proper treatment if the problem persists.
Tonsils are protective tissues that helps to fight off infections and filtering the germs. However, when overworked, tonsils get inflamed and can cause throat problems. While tonsillitis is more common in children, it can affect anyone. Again bacterial or viral in origin, the infection can cause throat pain, discomfort on swallowing, bad breath, swollen lymph nodes, fever and loss of appetite. It is necessary to get tests done to detect infection, so that necessary treatment can be planned.
Similar to tonsils, adenoids are infection fighting tissues present in the throat region, behind the nose. When adenoids get inflamed or infected they block the nasal passage which leads to mouth breathing. Common symptoms include stuffy nose, nasal speech and snoring due to blocked nose, sore throat and throat pain.
Thyroid gland is located in the throat region and plays an important role in causing throat symptoms. Inflamed thyroid gland or thyroiditis can lead to sore throat, throat pain, neck pain, painful swallowing and fever. This calls for precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment to manage thyroid problems. Know your risk of thyroid problems with these tests.
Mumps are a viral infection of the parotid glands, which are located between the ear and the jaws. In most cases, mumps are noted as swollen cheeks or area near the jaw joint. However, it also presents with throat problems and pain on swallowing. Similarly, other viral infections like chicken pox, measles, too can cause throat problems and swallowing difficulty.
Ear and Nose problems
Most problems and particularly infections of the ear and nose affect the throat too. Middle ear infections, sinusitis or inflamed sinuses, rhinitis or running nose can cause sore throat and throat pain. Basic laboratory tests for infections and allergies give a fair idea of such problems, while advanced investigations may be ordered, if necessary. Treatment is based on the cause, which often relieves throat problems also.
As the throat is located in the front of the neck, certain disorders in the neck can also cause throat problems. Neck swelling, problems in the neck can cause pain in the entire region of throat. This is evaluated based on clinical symptoms and appropriate tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Gastrointestinal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
Reflux of acid or regurgitation of stomach contents can cause irritation of the throat. It is often presented with heartburn, pain or burning sensation under the breastbone, digestive problems like nausea and sometimes even vomiting.
Throat cancer is one of the really serious disease related to throat. Cancer, which is uncontrolled growth of cells can occur due to various causes and genetic changes. Throat cancer may include cancer of the pharynx, larynx, tonsils, thyroid or structures present in the area. It presents with symptoms like sore throat, cough, voice changes or hoarse voice, difficulty in speaking or swallowing and weight loss.
These are just some of the diseases related to throat. The possible underlying cause of throat complaints is best evaluated by a physician and confirmed with necessary laboratory tests. It is also important to seek medical opinion at the earliest, if you note throat problems with skin rash, severe difficulty in breathing or swallowing, inability to talk, high fever, stiff neck or severe vomiting.
The best way to protect your health is to stay informed and seek timely medical help. Being aware of the diseases related to throat is one step towards good health.
So, take action now. Prevent and manage throat problems and stay healthy.
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