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.


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.