Sore throats are common, prompting accounting for 10% of primary health visits per year. Many sore throats are attributed to bacterial or viral infections and can be managed at home. But there are sometimes sore throats that only affect one side. Understanding the cause can be instrumental in determining the appropriate course of action.
Potential Causes of One-Sided Sore Throats
- Tonsillitis: Tonsilitis, an inflammation or infection of the tonsils, can occur on one or both sides of the throat. Treatment options range from over-the-counter pain relievers available at Crestwood Pharmacy to antibiotics. In severe cases, recurrent tonsillitis may necessitate a tonsillectomy.
- Postnasal Drip: Mucus trapped on one side of the throat can lead to soreness and inflammation. If you notice swelling or pain, consulting with your doctor is recommended for proper treatment.
- Canker Sores: Canker sores, resulting from various causes such as injury, allergies, stress, irritants or disorders, may manifest on one side of the throat. These sores can develop in the mouth, lips, cheeks and throat.
- Swollen Lymph Nodes: Infections overwhelming the immune system can lead to swollen and painful lymph nodes, often requiring antibiotics. Persistent swelling warrants a visit to the doctor to rule out underlying causes like lymphoma or other cancers.
- Tooth Abscess or Infection: Dental issues, like a tooth abscess or infection, can extend to cause one-sided throat swelling. If accompanied by tooth pain, prompt dental attention is advised.
- GERD (Acid Reflux): Digestive issues or indigestion accompanying a sore throat may indicate GERD. Consult with your doctor for suitable treatment options.
- Laryngitis An infection in the voice box; laryngitis can be triggered by allergies, voice overuse, smoking or other infections. In most cases, these infections resolve within a week.
- Peritonsillar Abscess: Complications from tonsillitis can lead to a peritonsillar abscess, affecting one side of the throat due to an infected tonsil.
- Neuralgia Conditions: Irritation of nerves like Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia and Trigeminal Neuralgia, often caused by dental work, trauma, facial swelling or tumors, may result in one-sided pain.
- Head or Neck Cancers: Persistent one-sided throat pain could be a sign of head or neck cancers, necessitating a thorough medical evaluation.
When To See a Doctor
If a sore throat persists for a week without improvement, regardless of whether it affects one side or the entire throat, consult a doctor. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause, and healthcare professionals at Albany ENT & Allergy Services are equipped to guide you through symptom management options. Understanding the diverse causes of one-sided sore throats empowers individuals to make informed decisions about seeking medical attention.