Sharp Pain on One Side of Throat When Swallowing: Causes and Treatment
The symptoms of acute throat infection are similar to those of flu or cold. They include fever, chills, headache, cough, runny nose and sore throat. But these symptoms may not always appear immediately after a viral infection such as influenza.
Sometimes they occur days later or even months after the initial infection. Some people experience no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of acute throat infection may vary from person to person depending on their age, immune system strength and other factors. However, most people will have some sort of soreness in the throat area when swallowing. These symptoms usually last less than 24 hours but sometimes they last longer.
Symptoms often start suddenly and then worsen over time until there is severe pain in the throat area which causes coughing up blood or choking to stop altogether.
Acute throat infections are contagious and spread through direct contact with someone else’s mouth, nose or eyes. If you are sick with a virus like the common cold or flu, your body produces antibodies against it. These antibodies protect you from catching the disease again if you come into contact with another infected person.
But if you catch a viral infection such as the common cold or flu without any immunity, your body makes its own antibodies too and attacks itself instead of attacking others. Your immune system may then start to attack its own organs, especially in the throat area or nose.
Acute throat infection symptoms usually last for less than a week. However, they can linger and persist for much longer, even for several months or years. The risk of developing long-term complications increases with age.
For example, someone over 60 has a greater chance of developing acute ulcerative gingivitis than a child under 10.
Acute throat infection is caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria and other micro-organisms. Viral infections are the most common cause of acute throat infection. The most common viruses that cause acute throat infection are the influenza (flu), parainfluenza, adenovirus, diphtheria, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses.
Acute sore throat is also caused by bacteria like mycoplasma and even the common cold can be caused by either a virus or a type of bacteria called a coronavirus.
The main symptom of acute sore throat is severe pain while swallowing. This is usually worse while the infection is at its peak and may decrease over a few days or weeks. Other symptoms include a mild fever, headache, runny nose and cough.
Treatment for acute throat infection varies depending on the cause. For example, influenza is usually treated with an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu. Sore throat caused by a virus may only require home treatment.
A cool mist humidifier can soothe the irritated throat and the pain often decreases within a few days or weeks. Antibiotics are not prescribed for sore throat caused by a virus because they do not work against viruses.
Antibiotics are usually only prescribed if bacteria such as mycoplasma is the cause. While most people will recover within a week, acute throat infection can sometimes lead to complications such as acute ulcerative gingivitis or peritonsillar cellulitis. Both of these conditions may require medical attention.
Sore throat is less common in children than adults. In rare cases it may be a sign of something more serious like acute lymphocytic leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease.
Acute tonsillitis is a term used to describe the rapid onset of tonsil enlargement and sore throat. Tonsils are collections of lymphoid tissue located at the back of your mouth on either side of the base of your tongue. They are important for fighting bacteria and viruses.
A rapid onset of tonsil swelling and redness (erythema) is the main feature of this condition.
Acute tonsillitis is usually caused by a virus but it may also be caused by bacteria or other micro-organisms. It can also be caused by a chemical irritation of the tonsils such as from smoking, alcohol or even spicy food. Risk factors include smoking, alcohol use, poor diet and having had a sore throat in the past.
Treatment for this condition usually involves rest and taking over-the-counter analgesics to relieve pain and reduce fever. It also involves drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and getting plenty of rest so as to ease the symptoms. Pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are effective at relieving pain.
Most cases of acute tonsillitis will resolve without the need for medical intervention within one to two weeks but sometimes it can lead to more serious complications such as quinsy or peritonsillar abscess.
Peritonsillar abscess is a collection of pus that has built up around the tonsil (peritonsillar) and is usually caused by a complication of acute tonsillitis. This condition is usually not noted until after the infection has been present for at least a week.
The most common symptom of peritonsillar abscess is extreme pain in the area of the tonsil along with fever and trouble swallowing. Other symptoms include irritability, difficulty swallowing, swollen neck glands and earache.
Treatment of peritonsillar abscess involves medical observation, antibiotics and sometimes surgery. For children, doctors usually start off by prescribing analgesics to reduce pain and fever. If this does not work then the child may have to undergo surgical drainage in order to get rid of the abscess.
Most cases are resolved with at least a week of antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin.
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