Causes Of A Swollen Throat
There are a number of things that can give you a swollen throat. Viruses, bacteria, and allergic reactions are usually to blame. A swollen throat may be accompanied by various degrees of soreness, and may on occasion require treatment, but in most cases it does not. It can become a life-threatening situation however if the air passage is in danger of becoming blocked. Severe swelling due to an allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and can caused by anything from a bee sting to eating shellfish, peanuts, or any other food item one may be extremely allergic to. Other causes of a swollen throat include strep throat, tonsillitis, mononucleosis, or just about any bacterial or viral infection in the throat passage which will cause inflammation.
Is Swelling A Bad Thing?
What causes swelling, whether it is in the throat or somewhere else in the body? Swelling is an accumulation of excess fluids in body tissues. In the case of a swollen throat, it is a build up of fluids in the lymph glands of the throat. Fluid is built up due to a reaction by the immune system to an infection in the body, or as is sometimes the case, due to an allergic reaction. Swollen glands or lymph nodes in the neck are a good sign in that it's an indication the body is fighting an infection. These lymph nodes serve to trap bacteria and viruses that are present in the body. The swelling can be a very bad thing however if the buildup of fluids in the glands, and hence the swelling of the glands in the neck, begins to but pressure on the air passage, and doing so begins to interfere with the flow of air into the lungs. In other words, a little swelling is a good thing, but excessive swelling can be a bad thing. When the body is fighting an infection, the usual symptoms are pain, inflammation, and swelling. The three very often go hand-in-hand.
When Glands Themselves Become Swollen And Infected
When we get a sore throat, it's normally either symptomatic of a disease that the immune system is fighting off, or a bacterial or viral infection in the throat itself. Although many of us have had our tonsils removed, and eventually came to regard them as not being particularly useful. Tonsils are closely related to lymph nodes, and perform the same type of protective function, by capturing viruses and bacteria. The problem with tonsils is that they have a tendency to become infected themselves, and consequently sometimes need to be removed. That isn't usually the case with the lymph nodes near the throat.
If the glands or lymph nodes in your throat become sufficiently swollen, you may be able to feel them, something that you normally can't do, as in their normal state they measure only about a half inch across. If you can feel them, the chances are your throat will be sore as well, as the glands are engaged in fighting off bacteria or viruses in the throat, which in turn are causing the lining of the throat to become inflamed and sore.
It's little wonder that we on occasion experience a sore or swollen throat. While the mucus in our nasal passages tend to trap bacteria and viruses before they reach the throat, there isn't anything in our mouth that does the task quite as well, and we breath through the mouth more often than we may realize. Food also passes through the mouth and throat, and also contains bacteria, but it is mostly the air that we breathe that brings with it the germs that can attack the throat. Bacteria, viruses, or chemicals that can irritate the lining of the throat can also be transmitted to the throat from the digestive tract or elsewhere in the body. Acid reflux disease can cause a sore or swollen throat, as can rheumatic fever, influenza, and strep throat. The common cold can cause a sore throat, and on occasion a swollen throat, although the swelling is normally not particularly severe and is almost always temporary.
Treatment Of A Sore Or Swollen Throat
If the swelling is not severe, a swollen throat can often be treated at home using over-the-counter medications. Pain relievers such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, Advil, or Aleve will often help reduce swelling, as well as provide relief from soreness or pain. Aspirin can help as well, but aspirin should not be given to children. There may however come a time where it's advisable to call a doctor. This would be when the swollen throat is accompanied by a persistent high fever, or accompanied by difficulty in breathing or swallowing. Severe swelling due to an allergic reaction may warrant emergency medical treatment.
In most cases, a sore throat is a discomfort or an inconvenience which often does not last more than a day, and sometimes lasts only a few hours. A swollen throat is experienced even less frequently, and some never experience significant swelling at all. It's therefore a seldom occasion when the condition warrants a visit to the doctor, or requires either ER treatment or a stay in the hospital.