Chronic Inflammation of the Throat


Pharyngitis is the medical term for inflammation of the throat. Primarily characterized by redness, swelling and discomfort, most cases of pharyngitis are caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Viral infections tend to go away on their own. Most sore throats will improve or clear up within five to seven days. On occasion, some cases of pharyngitis persist, despite treatment. These cases are considered to be chronic.

A sick woman resting in bed.
A sick woman resting in bed. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Symptoms of Chronic Pharyngitis

Common symptoms of chronic pharyngitis are a persistent red, swollen throat. This may be occasionally combined with a fever or pus, depending on the cause of the infection. There is pain when talking, swallowing and breathing. Symptoms often persist beyond a week in duration. Or they may go away and return.

A woman holds her throat in pain.
A woman holds her throat in pain. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Medical Causes of Chronic Throat Inflammation

Chronic throat inflammation can be caused by a virulent strain of bacteria that does not respond well to antibiotics. It can also be caused by recurrent viral infections. People who tend to breathe solely through their mouths can irritate the back of the throat. Drainage from allergic rhinitis or postnasal drip also irritates the throat. Occasionally, chronic throat inflammation can be caused by TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. The disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint (the part of the jaw where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw) becomes somewhat displaced, causing pain and popping when chewing, yawning and sometimes talking. Irritation can radiate to the throat. Diseases such as HIV and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also tend to cause chronic throat inflammation.

A woman has her throat checked by a doctor.
A woman has her throat checked by a doctor. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Environmental Causes of Chronic Pharyngitis

Smoking, pollution, dry air, other airborne irritants and environmental allergens can cause chronic sore throat. Smokeless tobacco also irritates the throat. A diet high in alcohol and spicy foods can cause chronic pharyngitis.

Smoke rises out of factory chimney.
Smoke rises out of factory chimney. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Medical Treatments

The doctor performs an examination and does some tests to try to determine the cause of the chronic sore throat. In the event of a persistent bacterial infection, he may prescribe a stronger antibiotic. Allergy medications may relieve some drainage and postnasal drip. For other causes, lifestyle changes and home remedies are recommended.

A doctor discusses treatment options with a patient.
A doctor discusses treatment options with a patient. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Home Remedies

Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and clear fluids. Drink warm broth. Mix honey and lemon into hot water to drink, to coat the throat and cut through the mucus. Eat Jell-O. Gargle with salt water. Use throat lozenges or hard candy to stimulate fluid secretions in the mouth.

A pack of cough drops.
A pack of cough drops. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Lifestyle Changes

Keep air humidified indoors. Eliminate allergens from the home. Quit smoking or tobacco use. Avoid alcohol and spicy foods. Stop using chemicals and stay indoors on days of high pollution.

A pint of beer.
A pint of beer. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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