When it comes to illness, one of the most common symptoms that we will experience is the sore throat. We all know the feeling of that oncoming cold with the throat irritation and the swollen glands that serve to make swallowing painful.
Of course, a cold is by no means the only reason for a sore throat. In many situations, we will feel the pain of swallowing without ever developing a cold. That is because there so many causes that that can lead to pain when we swallow.
How Common Is It To Experience Pain When Swallowing?
Not surprisingly, pain when swallowing is extremely common. According to research published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases in September 2012, approximately 15 million people in the US go to their doctor each year due to a sore throat. Far more will live with a sore throat without ever going to the doctor or even being diagnosed.
This happens because the discomfort and pain experienced when swallowing is simply considered normal and in the majority of situations, the symptoms go away on their own.
In some situations, however, symptoms can be more painful than expected or can last longer than normal. In these situations, it is a good idea to visit the doctor as some causes of sore throats can be more serious. Because there can be so many reasons that it can hurt to swallow, it is important to be aware of those that are most common.
What Are Some Common Reasons Why It May Hurt To Swallow?
The most common reason that it can hurt to swallow is because of an infection. Whether a virus, fungus, or bacteria causes it, the inflammation that results from an infection will frequently make swallowing painful. And because we swallow several times per minute when we are awake, pain when swallowing is something we will quickly notice.
That said, there are also numerous other reasons why the throat can be sore when swallowing.
Viral Infections Of The Saliva Glands Can Make It Hurt To Swallow
Of the causes of throat infection, viral infections are the most common. While a cold is the most recognized type of viral infection, other viral infections can also develop in the throat and mouth leading to throat pain.
One example is when a viral infection develops in the saliva glands. When this type of infection occurs, the glands will become swollen and tender making swallowing quite uncomfortable, but the feeling will not be the same pain as from a cold.
Another example of a virus that can lead to throat pain is Mononucleosis or mono for short. It is also sometimes called the “kissing disease”. Unlike many other viral infections that will last for a few weeks at most, a person can feel the effects of mono for months although throat pain will usually stop more rapidly.
Even though most forms of virus will not linger and the pain they cause will fade within a few weeks, many people will go to their doctor asking for antibiotics, hoping for a more rapid recovery.
Unfortunately, antibiotics have no effect on viruses as they only combat bacterial infection. In the case of some viral infections such as mono, antibiotics can even make the symptoms worse. This makes it all the more important to know whether your infection is cause by a virus or something else.