The sudden change in weather from a bright, warm sunny day to a cold, chilly day can leave many of us afflicted with a cold and sore throat as our bodies are caught unaware by the quick change in weather.
A sore throat is a symptom, not a disease. A sore throat is one of the most common conditions seen by an ENT specialist. Viral infections cause the majority of sore throats. These viruses are highly contagious and spread quickly. The first indication of the infection is usually scratchiness or tickling in the throat. Other people can catch the infection even before you experience symptoms, which is one reason why sore throats are hard to prevent.
The same pollens and molds that irritate the nose when they are inhaled also may irritate the throat. Cat and dog dander’s and house dust are common causes of sore throats for people with allergies to them.
During the cold winter months, dry heat may create a recurring, mild sore throat with a parched feeling, especially in the mornings. Patients with a chronic stuffy nose, causing mouth breathing, also suffer with a dry throat. Pollutants and chemicals in the air can irritate the nose and throat, but the most common air pollutant is tobacco smoke.
A person who strains his or her voice (yelling at a sports event, for example) gets a sore throat. Sore throats may also be the result of irritation caused by secretions from the nose draining down the throat in association with a cold or allergy. An occasional cause of morning sore throat is regurgitation of stomach acids up into the back of the throat. Growths of the throat, tongue, and voice box are usually (but not always) associated with long-time use of tobacco and alcohol. Sore throat and difficulty swallowing—sometimes with pain radiating to the ear—may be symptoms of such a growth.

When should I see a doctor for my sore throat?
Whenever a sore throat is severe, persists longer than the usual five- to seven- day duration and is not associated with an avoidable allergy or irritation, you should seek medical attention. The following signs and symptoms should alert you to see your physician:
• Severe and prolonged sore throat that persists longer than seven days
• Difficulty breathing
• Pain with swallowing is to be expected with a sore throat but if you have difficulty swallowing or opening the mouth you should see a doctor
• Fever of 101º F lasting three or more days or fever greater than 103º F
• Sore throat with a rash
• Blood in saliva or phlegm
• Frequently recurring sore throat
• Enlarged tonsils with fever or one tonsil much larger than the other
• Headache with stiff neck, fever, confusion, vomiting and/or rash
• If you have been in contact with someone with bacterial sore throat and you have a sore throat.
• If your sore throat is not associated with cold symptoms or is associated with a swollen “glands” (lymph nodes), or white patches on the back of your throat.

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