Sore throat, medically called pharyngitis, is characterized by scratchiness, irritation and inflammation of the throat that can often make speaking or swallowing food difficult and, in severe cases, may also inhibit the ability to breathe.
Viral infections such as common colds and influenza or bacterial infection (strep throat) caused by the streptococcus bacteria, are two of the most common causes for sore throats. Symptoms of strep throat include a fever greater than 38°C, white patches on the throat, and swollen or tender glands in the neck area.
Epiglottitis is a dangerous throat infection in which inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis can close the airway. Epiglottitis should be suspected in patients with a sore throat who develop difficulty breathing, a high pitched sound while breathing in, or drooling, and requires immediate medical attention.
Sore throats can also be caused by allergies, sinus infections, chemicals, pollutants and dry heat. Some of the people most affected by sore throat are children and those with weakened immune systems. Most sore throats go away on their own, but if a child has a persistent sore throat, they should see a doctor.