There are many conditions that can cause a burning sensation in the throat. Some of these can be more serious than others, but all can cause discomfort that requires treatment.
The good news is that it is fairly easy for a healthcare provider to determine the cause. They will find you based on your other symptoms and physical exam.
This article will help you discover some common causes of a sore throat. It will also tell you how your healthcare provider treats each condition, so you can get relief.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
The hallmark of gastroesophageal reflux disease ( GERD ) is a burning sensation in the chest known as heartburn. This happens when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
Sometimes the acid rises to the throat and voice. When this happens, it is called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). Interestingly, half of people with LPR experience "silent reflux," which means that they do not experience heartburn or indigestion.
Other symptoms of LPR include:
- Constant feeling that there is something in the throat.
- Phlegm in the throat
- Throat cleaning
- Sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Swallowing problems
GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle relaxes or becomes too weak. LES generally prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. In LPR, the upper esophageal sphincter, which prevents acid from flowing back into the throat, also fails.
Diagnosis is fairly straightforward and is usually made on the basis of a physical examination.
Lifestyle changes can help with both GERD and LPR. These changes include quitting smoking and limiting or stopping alcohol use. Certain foods like chocolate, spicy foods, and citrus fruits can also cause reflux. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help you control and prevent LPR.
Sometimes, in addition to lifestyle changes, medications such as a proton pump inhibitor are needed.
Esophagitis is another medical condition that can cause a burning sensation in the throat. This is an inflammation of the esophagus, and GERD is a common cause.
When stomach acid is pumped down the throat, it can cause irritation and inflammation. This usually results in a burning sensation in the throat. It can also cause problems or pain when swallowing.
Besides GERD, other causes of esophagitis can include infections or certain pills. It can also be caused by radiation therapy to the neck, ingestion of chemicals (such as drain cleaners for drinking), or food allergies. If it is caused by a food allergy, it is called eosinophilic esophagitis .
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if you have a yeast infection, you must take antifungal medications. If the cause is GERD, lifestyle changes and a proton pump inhibitor may be required.
Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome is a medical term for a prolonged, sometimes very intense, burning sensation on the tongue, lips, gums, roof of the mouth, or mouth and throat. You do not have a clear health reason. Someone with burning mouth syndrome may also have a dry mouth and / or a salty or metallic taste in their mouth.
Burning mouth syndrome is a complex problem that requires a so-called exclusion diagnosis. This means that other causes of symptoms must first be ruled out with a physical exam and blood tests.
Treatment can be difficult if the symptoms do not have a clear cause. In this case, the focus is on helping to cope with the symptoms.
Viral or bacterial infection.
In addition to burning, itching, or wetness in the throat, especially when swallowing, a person with a viral throat infection may also experience a cough, runny nose, hoarseness, and / or diarrhea (in children).
Antibiotics do not work against viruses. This means that the goal of treatment is to control symptoms with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, salt water gargles, lozenges, or throat sprays while the infection clears.
Less commonly, a bacterial sore throat is the cause of the infection . It requires a visit to the doctor to receive an antibiotic. If left untreated, it can spread and lead to serious problems like rheumatic fever , scarlet fever, and inflammation of the kidneys.
Other signs and symptoms of a sore throat often include:
- Swollen and painful lymph nodes in the neck.
- White spots on the tonsils.
- Body pain
After nasal drops
Postnasal syndrome is sometimes called upper respiratory cough syndrome. This happens when mucus and fluid from the sinuses and nose travel down the throat. Usually people say they feel something dripping down their throat, and this can be irritating and cause a burning sensation. Coughing is also common, as you constantly try to clear your throat.
There are many different causes of postnasal leak, including:
Antihistamines / decongestants like Claritin-D are often used to treat postnasal leakage. Addressing the root cause, such as taking antibiotics for a bacterial sinus infection, is also very important.
Sometimes the symptoms of GERD are similar to postnasal bleeding or occur at the same time. This complicates diagnosis and treatment somewhat.
There are several possible reasons why you feel a burning sensation in your throat. Gastric reflux problems, either GERD or LPR, are among the most common. Inflamed esophagus or infection.
While there may be less serious causes, such as a postnasal drip, some of these conditions are or can become serious. It is important for your healthcare provider to know your symptoms so that you can receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Get the word of drug information
There are many reasons why you may experience a burning sensation in your throat. Although your family healthcare provider or primary healthcare provider can diagnose most conditions, sometimes you may need to see a specialist. These may include a gastroenterologist or an otolaryngologist. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for the correct diagnosis and treatment plan so that you can get back on track to wellness.
Frequently asked questions
Usually not permanently, but symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as eating small meals, avoiding certain foods and sodas, and avoiding eating too close to bed. It is also helpful to avoid strenuous exercise until the food is digested, sleep on a slight incline, stop smoking, and if necessary lose weight.
Burning mouth syndrome is more common in postmenopausal women and in people with a condition called geographic tongue. It could be a genetic link, and people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or liver disease, may also be at increased risk for burning mouth syndrome.
Treatment options for burning mouth syndrome are limited. Some people try to use ice chips or gum to relieve symptoms, while others are prescribed medications such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants. Many people see an improvement in symptoms within five years, even without treatment.