Sore throat coming back

When Is a Sore Throat Considered Chronic?

In addition, Flores notes that persistent throat pain that feels worse on one side may indicate a bacterial infection that usually begins as a complication of tonsillitis or untreated strep throat (peritonsillar abscess). In some cases, the pain may indicate an advanced tumor. “A sore throat accompanied by a swollen neck gland should be seen by a physician soon,” says Flores.

Other causes of a chronic sore throat, like smoking, are problems that you can control to alleviate your throat pain.

The Best Ways to Treat a Sore Throat

To successfully treat a sore throat, you have to know what’s causing it. Bacterial infections like strep throat need treatment with antibiotics. It’s crucial that you receive treatment for strep and don’t let it continue. This bacterial infection can lead to rheumatic fever, which can cause permanent heart damage. A simple course of antibiotics (remember to take them all) can keep strep throat from becoming a serious problem.

Viral infections, like influenza, may be treated with anti-viral medication, but most do not require any treatment at all.

If you have allergies that are causing a chronic sore throat (through postnasal drip), your doctor may prescribe a medication to control allergy symptoms, such as nasal corticosteroids like Flonase (fluticasone). You can also find ways to avoid those allergens (often things like mold, pet dander, or pollen) to alleviate your throat pain and other symptoms.

Finding Relief From Throat Pain

No matter what’s causing a sore throat, you can take steps at home to soothe an itchy, scratchy, painful throat. Try these tips to relieve throat pain at home:

  • Suck on something soothing, like a piece of hard candy, a throat lozenge, or a Popsicle.
  • Stay hydrated and moisten the throat by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. Try adding honey to a warm drink or sip on a mug of warm tea.
  • Try an over-the-counter pain reliever, like Aleve (naproxen), Tylenol (acetaminophen), and Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen). Use in moderation and only for a short period of time.
  • Run a humidifier in your home to prevent dry air from irritating your throat.
  • Create a mixture of warm water and 1 teaspoon of salt per cup and gargle it a couple of times per day.

It can be hard to pinpoint the cause of a sore throat, but if it doesn’t get any better, you can be sure there’s some reason for it. “If the sore throat is accompanied by very severe pain on swallowing along with a high fever, it’s best to see a healthcare provider right away,” says Flores. See your doctor, figure out the cause, and decide on treatments and remedies that best fit your diagnosis.

Dry Mouth at Night: Causes & Treatment

Jump to a Section in this Article:

  • Symptoms of Dry Mouth at Night
  • Causes of Dry Mouth at Night
  • Home Remedies for Dry Mouth at Night
  • Saliva Substitutes and Stimulants

Dry mouth is a common condition that frequently occurs at night. It is caused when the salivary glands do not produce enough moisture to keep the mouth wet. Saliva helps the mouth to naturally combat the acids and bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. An absence of saliva during the night is not only uncomfortable, but it can also disturb sleep and negatively affect oral health.

SYMPTOMS OF DRY MOUTH AT NIGHT

Dry Mouth at Night.
Credit: NIDCR

Typical symptoms of dry mouth at night include:

  • Frequently waking up in the middle of night to have to drink water.
  • Waking up in the morning with a dry mouth.
  • Dry lips and throat in the morning.
  • Thick, stringy or foamy saliva in the morning.
  • A constant sore throat.
  • Burning or cracked tongue.
  • Halitosis, or bad breath.

CAUSES OF DRY MOUTH AT NIGHT

Mouth-breathing is the primary culprit of producing a dry mouth at night. Breathing through your mouth is commonly triggered by the following:

  • Use of bite splint, dental retainers, or other orthodontic appliances.
  • Wearing a CPAP mask as part of treatment for sleep apnea.
  • Snoring due to an allergy or cold can cause tissue in the nose to swell, so you’re more likely to breathe through your mouth at night.
  • Breathing difficulties – blocked nasal passage due to chronic sinusitis, maxillary antrolith, or a deviated nasal septum.

Additionally, all of these concerns can be exacerbated by a dry atmosphere induced by central heating or air conditioning. Whatever the cause, there are a number of simple home remedies that can help people who suffer from dry mouth at night to alleviate the symptoms.

HOME REMEDIES FOR DRY MOUTH AT NIGHT

While there is no way of preventing dry mouth at night without addressing the underlying causes, there are a number of simple antidotes and lifestyle changes that may prove effective in helping those with symptoms of dry mouth find relief. These include:

  • Use humidifier to improve room air moisture levels.
  • Try nasal strips to make it easier to breathe from your nose.
  • Making dietary changes to avoid foods that can exacerbate the condition. Acidic or spicy foods can be particularly irritating.
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening, as both act to dry out the mouth.
  • Quitting (or cutting back on) tobacco use.
  • Having a renewed focus on oral hygiene. Proper care of the teeth includes brushing twice per day and flossing.
  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Chewing mint or parsley during the day.

While these tips and tricks can help temporarily relieve the symptoms of dry mouth at night, they can also be paired with other remedies for improved results.

Waking up with dry mouth:

Waking up with dry mouth is an unpleasant experience that cannot easily be prevented through traditional dry mouth remedies. Try using a humidifier or nasal strips, and drink plenty of water. Xylimelts, which adhere to your mouth while you sleep, are another great option for prevention.

SALIVA SUBSTITUTES AND STIMULANTS

Product Long-Lasting Use while sleeping All-Natural Feels good Neutralizes Acids
Oral Adhering Discs X X X X X
Dry mouth sprays X
Dry mouth mouthwash X
Dry mouth gum X
Dry mouth toothpaste X

In conjunction with the remedies listed above, many people who suffer symptoms of dry mouth turn to saliva substitutes and stimulants for more complete relief. Saliva substitutes include water, artificial saliva, or other liquids or oils. Also quite common are saliva stimulants, which simply work to promote the body’s natural saliva-producing ability. Sugar-free gum or mints encourage saliva production, as can prescription saliva stimulants. There are also over-the-counter saliva stimulants and dry mouth products available, such as OraCoat® XyliMelts® oral adhering discs for dry mouth.

XyliMelts oral adhering discs slowly release 500 mg of xylitol throughout the night to increase saliva and coat the mouth with a soothing oral lubricant to moisturize and lubricate the mouth. Because they adhere on teeth or gums, XyliMelts discs can be safely used at night while sleeping and work all night to combat the negative effects of dry mouth. Using XyliMelts discs at night while sleeping when saliva is lowest, is the most effective per gram delivery of xylitol to help reduce the risk of caries.

An introduction to persistent sore throats

A persistent sore throat is one which lasts longer than three or four weeks. If you suffer from a sore throat which persists, you should seek medical attention as it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Glandular fever

This is most common among teenagers and young adults and is caused by a virus called Epstein Barr Virus. Aside from a sore throat, you may also experience a high fever, swollen glands in the neck and extreme fatigue. While in the majority of cases it does not present a serious health risk to the sufferer, it can be unpleasant while it lasts.

Glandular fever is contagious for between 2 and 18 months of experiencing symptoms. It is spread through saliva, coughs and sneezes and sharing eating utensils.

There is no specific cure for glandular fever, although there are treatments which can ease the symptoms you experience. However, once you have experienced one bout of glandular fever you will be unlikely to experience a further one as you will have developed an immunity to the virus.

Tonsillitis

This is common among young children, although it can affect a person at any age. Most cases of tonsillitis clear up within a few days but this is not always the case. In some people, the infection can return several times a year.

Symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, headaches, fevers and coughing. Although in many cases the symptoms are manageable, sometimes a course of antibiotics is needed. If you suffer from severe and recurring episodes of tonsillitis, your doctor may recommend that you have your tonsils removed. This operation was very common 40 or 50 years ago, but is carried out infrequently nowadays.

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is inflammation of your larynx (voice box). It causes you to have a persistent sore throat, hoarseness or complete loss of voice. Many people can get rid of their symptoms within a week by resting their voice and taking remedies to soothe their throat. However, sometimes laryngitis can last for several weeks.

Causes of laryngitis can range from overusing your voice, to smoking, to a viral infection. It is important to understand what has caused your bout of laryngitis before it can be treated.

Cancer

Throat cancer can affect any part of the structures in your throat or mouth. It is a relatively rare form of cancer, but a persistent sore throat can be a sign of the problem. The feeling of a foreign body when you swallow, or lump in the neck or throat, may also be an indication of throat cancer.

Smoking increases the risk of getting throat cancer (as well as other types of cancer), as does excessive alcohol consumption.

If you have been diagnosed with throat cancer your healthcare professional will discuss options for treatments with you.

Chronic Pharyngitis

Throat cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, its location, and how advanced it is.

If a diagnosis of throat cancer is confirmed, treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Surgery results in cure for up to eight in ten cases of early-stage throat cancer, while radiotherapy is also often successful. In some cases, surgery and radiotherapy may be used in combination.

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A sore throat is a painful but common affliction that everyone suffers from on occasion. It may be the first sign of a cold, the result of strained vocal cords or a symptom of a more serious condition such as strep throat.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a sore throat include pain, scratchiness, dry throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swollen neck or jaw glands and swollen or inflamed tonsils. You may also have a fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sneezing, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea and vomiting.

Causes of Chronic Sore Throat

Most sore throats are the result of viral infections, often related to the common cold or flu. Bacterial infections can also lead to sore throats. Some of the more common ones include strep throat, tonsillitis, whooping cough and diphtheria.

A sore throat is considered chronic when it lasts for more than three months. Typical factors that can cause a long-lasting sore throat include allergies, acid reflux, environmental irritants, dry air and strained vocal cords. Occasionally a more serious condition, such as a tumor or HIV, can cause a sore throat.

Treatment & Prevention

Home remedies are often the most effective treatment method for a sore throat. Try gargling with warm salt water periodically throughout the day. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids, and use throat lozenges and cough drops to relieve soreness and irritation. A humidifier is often helpful. Over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants are beneficial at providing relief as well. If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, you will need to treat it with antibiotics.

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a sore throat in the future. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve and do not share food or utensils with others who are sick.

In order to treat a chronic sore throat, your physician must first determine the cause. The first step involves reviewing your medical history and completing a physical exam. Additional tests are often required to further narrow down the cause.

Contact Sacramento Ear, Nose & Throat for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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