The Most Common Throat Conditions

The most common throat ailments are those that appear frequently, especially in children. Their treatment is simple, but we must avoid the temptation to self-medicate.
The Most Common Throat Conditions

Last update: 02 June, 2021

The most common throat conditions are usually mild and mostly affect the pharynx and larynx.

However, much importance is attributed to them because they’re related to the misuse of medications, especially antibiotics. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 50 to 60% of the population self-medicates. This is a very dangerous practice, and we’ll tell you why later in this article.

What is the origin of throat disorders?

The origin of throat disorders can be infectious or non-infectious. Infectious conditions include those that are the result of viruses, bacteria, or fungi.

According to the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology (SEORL), the most common throat disorders are the result of viruses. However, those caused by bacteria are also frequent.

Throat disorders of non-infectious origin can be allergic, irritative, or traumatic. A frequent cause of this group of conditions is the irritation that gastroesophageal reflux can cause.

Common throat conditions: Pharyngitis and tonsillitis

Both pharyngitis and tonsillitis are affections of the pharynx and can be acute or chronic. The degree of involvement and the area affected determines whether it’s tonsillitis or rhinopharyngitis.

On the other hand, if the affected area is more generalized, it’s called pharyngitis or pharyngotonsillitis. The origin of 80% of the pharyngitis is viral, although, on some occasions, these processes can evolve, causing a bacterial superinfection.

Among viral infections, those that are the result of influenza and colds are the most frequent. On the other hand, bacterial infections are mostly caused by group A streptococci.

A child's throat with white spots.
Childhood is highly affected by pharyngitis, more so than adults.

Symptoms

In childhood, the symptoms of these conditions have to do with age. The childhood population is classified into several groups: Infants, preschoolers, and school-age children.

In general, the symptoms that adults experience are very similar to those that school-aged children experience.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Dry feeling
  • Phlegm
  • Throbbing pain
  • Need to clear your throat

You may also be interested in: Homemade Natural Remedies for Pharyngitis

Diagnosis and treatment

It’s important to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections, as their frequency, treatment, and severity are different. You can differentiate one type of condition from another by its symptoms. Although, in general, viruses are to blame for most infections, and, therefore, their treatment doesn’t require antibiotics.

While the condition lasts, you must drink plenty of water. At the same time, you should avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as sudden temperature changes.

It’s a good idea to adopt a series of measures that can help you prevent the spread of infections among which are the following:

  • Use disposable tissue.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often.

You can relieve symptoms with medications such as analgesics, antipyretics, and anti-inflammatory drugs. These can relieve general discomfort, sore throat, and pain.

The most common throat conditions: Laryngitis

One of the most common throat conditions is laryngitis, which affects the larynx, the organ that produces your voice. When inflammation of this organ takes place, either due to an infection or irritating agents, it produces a narrowing of the larynx. This, in turn, can end up causing alterations in breathing and your voice.

Laryngitis can be acute or chronic. The most frequent is acute laryngitis of viral origin, which is more frequent in children between 3 months and 3 years old. However, the chronic condition is more typical of adults.

Among the reasons why acute laryngitis is more frequent in children are the following:

  • Lack of maturity of the immune system
  • Small larynx diameter
  • The ease with which edema and larynx spasms can appear
A doctor looking at a young girl's throat.
Laryngitis affects the area where the human vocal cords reside.

Symptoms and treatment

The symptoms of laryngitis are very characteristic, and include:

  • Metallic cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Occasionally, a moderate fever

Treatment

You should adopt a series of measures to help alleviate the process, such as avoiding forcing your voice, avoiding speaking, or doing so as little as possible. In addition, you should increase your fluid intake to facilitate the elimination of secretions.

Never self-medicate

When mild throat conditions manifest, you should always avoid self-medication. The inappropriate use of medications such as antibiotics ends up generating resistance to them, and resistance to these drugs is a real global public health problem.

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