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Throat Infection Symptoms

Throat Infection Symptoms

The throat infection symptoms experienced will vary depending on the cause of the infection. The most common symptom is usually a sore throat, but not all sore throats are the result of an infection.

When An Infection is Not the Cause

It’s not always easy to tell if the symptoms being experienced are due to an infection or something else. The throat sometimes has simply become irritated. Common causes of this would include low humidity, nasal drainage, smoking, and air pollution. Excessive breathing through the mouth, rather than through the nose, can also cause the throat to become sore. Heartburn is yet another cause that is not infection-related. Treating the symptoms of an irritated throat as if it were infected will seldom resolve the problem. If medication is taken to relieve the pain it can often be helpful no matter what the cause, but it may only mask the pain without affecting what is causing the pain.

Even throat infection symptoms do not always point to the same cause. If your throat is sore and you take an antibacterial medication, it would likely do little help if the infection is caused by a fungus or a virus. The medication may help to relieve the pain, but will do little to cure the infection, which could become worse over time.

Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection can involve the lining of the entire throat, only a portion of the lining, or a gland or organ that is located in or near the throat passage. The pain or discomfort associated with such an infection could therefore be somewhat localized at times and felt throughout the throat at other times. In many instances, throat infection symptoms experienced due to a bacterial infection are indistinguishable from those caused by a viral infection.

One of the more common symptoms, and one that is normally second only to pain or irritation, is a fever. Sometimes a fever is accompanied by a rash, which is usually the case when the bacteria is a strain of streptococcus. In most cases there will be no accompanying rash. The bacterial strain can also determine whether the fever experienced is a mild one or a high one, as well as its duration.

More severe infections, even when they are centered in the throat, can cause pain to be felt elsewhere in the body, particularly in the joints. If pain and swelling is also occurring in the joints it is usually a sign that the infection is a severe one. In such cases medical attention should be sought after without delay. Swelling that occurs in the throat and air passages can constitute an emergency situation. An abrupt change in mental behavior can also indicate a situation has arisen that requires immediate medical attention.

If the tonsils or adenoids are affected, something that is fairly common among children, the entire throat could feel sore, or the soreness could be local and toward the back of the mouth. In the case of inflamed tonsils, or tonsillitis, white patches can sometimes be observed on the vicinity of the tonsils.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are usually caused by an infection of Candida albicans. It is fairly common in babies since they have not yet developed an immunity towards it. It is usually both temporary and harmless. Candida can present problems with adults however. Throat infection symptoms due to a fungus usually consist of soreness, redness, and dryness in the mouth. In some cases, lesions may appear in the roof of the mouth, at the back of the throat, and on the tongue. Anti-fungal medications are usually effective.

Viral Infections

Most sore throats are caused by viral infections. In most instances the condition needs to run its course, but medications or other measures can still be taken to relieve the symptoms, which in many cases consist of discomfort or soreness.

Symptoms will often vary significantly depending upon the type of virus involved. A flu virus can cause a sore throat, cough, fever, and muscle aches. A cold virus usually does not cause muscle aches, but can cause a runny nose besides the cough and fever. Infectious mononucleosis, also a viral infection, has many of the symptoms that other viruses cause, but in addition it is characterized by extreme fatigue which may last for several weeks. There is often swelling observed in the lymph nodes in the neck.

Summary

Throat infections that are caused by bacteria can usually be cured in a short time by taking antibiotics. For most viral infections, the throat infection symptoms can often be relieved to a degree, but the virus will need to run its course. A viral infection can last for up to two weeks, although most only last a few days. Mononucleosis generally takes quite a bit longer to clear up and often requires monitoring by a health practitioner while it runs its course.

No matter what type of infection is involved, should you have a severe sore throat that lasts for more than two days, or if you are experiencing fever and chills or are having any trouble breathing or swallowing, you should not rely on home remedies but put yourself under the care of a healthcare provider.

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Swollen Glands in the Throat

Understanding the Causes of Swollen Glands in the Throat

Throughout history humans have associated the presence of swollen glands in the throat with illness. As a child, you might recall a parent checking the sides of your throat whenever you were feeling under the weather. At the time, you probably didn’t understand what this was all about, but it’s actually a pretty ingenious way to detect one of the body’s classic signs of illness or distress: swollen glands in the throat. These glands, also known as the lymph nodes, are found all over the body. The most notable glands in the throat are located just behind the ear and along each side of the neck. When these glands begin to swell, this should be taken as a sign that there is definitely something different occurring in the body.

About Lymph Nodes

The lymph nodes are important bean-like tissues located all throughout the body. These glands are part of the lymphatic system which is one of the many essential systems in the human body. The lymphatic system is made up of a series of vessels and glands; the vessels transport fluid, nutrients, and waste material between various tissues throughout the body and the blood. The lymph nodes are responsible for acting as a filter for the fluid that passes through the lymphatic system, taking care to remove toxins and potentially infectious organisms from the fluid. The lymphatic system is an integral component of the body’s immune system because it traps bacteria and viruses inside the nodes and destroys the organisms using lymphocytes, which are essentially souped-up white blood cells.

Causes of Swollen Glands in the Throat

The primary cause behind swollen glands in the throat is infection. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, lymph nodes have to filter bacteria and other infectious organisms from the lymph fluid, but when a full-blown infection has occurred the nodes may find it difficult to keep up with the overwhelming task. An increase in the amount of lymphocytes in the glands, which will be necessary in order to fight off infection, will also contribute to enlargement of the lymph glands in the neck and head. The common cold, flu, and sore throat are a few conditions that are likely to cause swollen glands in the throat. Influenza can also cause several other lymph nodes in the body to swell, such as those located in the armpit and groin. Tonsillitis can also serve as a catalyst for swollen glands in the throat. Tonsillitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection but can also be the result of a virus. In addition to infectious organisms taxing the lymph nodes in the neck and spurring an influx in white blood cell count, inflammation of nearby tissues in the throat can cause them to press upon the lymph nodes causing them to be more pronounced.

Other Symptoms

Although the lymph nodes in the neck and the back of the head can sometimes be felt while they are swollen, this isn’t always so. In cases like this, one may determine the presence of enlarged lymph glands by gently pressing upon the sides of the neck and the area just behind the ears. If the glands are indeed swollen then these areas will likely feel tender and sore. When pressure is exerted against the glands or one turns the neck sharply, the areas containing clusters of lymph glands may become painful. Other symptoms that can indicate swelling include the typical signs of an infection: runny nose, sore throat, cough, sore throat, fever, chills, and “night sweats.” The presence of a tumor near a cluster of lymph glands can also cause them to swell. In this case, the area may feel stiff, hard, and/or may appear to swell at a consistent rate without relief.

When to See a Doctor

Swollen glands in the throat are not usually a cause for worry. If the nodes become swollen as a result of an infection such as strep throat, tonsillitis, flu, or a cold then one may expect the lymph node swelling to subside as the body overcomes the illness. In some cases the swelling will not subside until the illness has been treated with an antibiotic, as is the case with bacterial and fungal illnesses. In this case, one would have to see a doctor in order to receive a proper diagnosis and antibiotic prescription. With a viral infection, one must simply wait until the illness has run its course, after which the size of the lymph nodes will reduce as the need for white blood cells diminishes.

There are other times when swollen glands in the throat should be inspected by a doctor. If the glands appear to swell for no apparent reason then one might consider seeing a doctor in order to rule out any less-common but serious conditions, such as a tumor or cancer. If the glands feel very hard or do not move around when gently pushed with one’s fingertip then this might also warrant a cautionary trip to the doctor. One may also want to visit a doctor if the glands remain swollen for an extended period of time and this symptom is accompanied by weight loss and/or persistent fever.