Dry Scratchy Throat

Inflammation of the pharynx, also known as sore throat, is a condition mostly caused by virus and is treatable with antiviral drugs. Bacteria that affect the respiratory tract also cause this condition though not as often as respiratory virus. Therefore, sore throat is the inflammation of pharynx or throat, implying the area between the larynx or voice box, and the tonsils.

An inflamed throat is characterized by swelling, redness, and pain, something that makes it difficult for one to swallow or speak. A dry scratchy throat is among the first symptoms of mild illnesses such as the flu or a cold.  Typically, when a patient has a sore throat, it should disappear within one week.

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However, if the condition lasts for more than two weeks, it could indicate a serious illness such as immunosuppressive conditions such as AIDs or malignancy. Streptococcal sore throat may precede the onset of certain heart or kidney conditions especially in children. A dry scratchy throat can imply a more serious condition for example scarlet fever, and streptococcal infection of the throat. Pharyngitis for more than 2 weeks should be examined by a specialist to determine its underlying pathology.

Causes of dry scratchy throat

Major causes are viruses and  bacteria. A majority of sore throats are caused by virus and the most common one are respiratory syncitial virus and other respiratory tract related viruses. Viruses that cause common cold are also responsible for viral pharyngitis. Another common viral infection, which may trigger sore throat and swelling of tonsils, is the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis i.e. Epstein Barr virus.

Infectious mononucleosis is usually mild in children and its diagnosis can easily be missed and instead mistaken for other conditions like cold and flu. However, infectious mononucleosis in adults can be extremely serious and fatal. The spleen and the liver are the most affected organs and jaundice is almost always a presentation. Some other viral infections that could result to inflamed throat are influenza, chicken pox, measles, and herpes. Due to effective control of these viruses in many countries however, there are not a major cause of serious morbidity.

Sore throat may also be caused by bacterial and the most common are the streptococcus bacterium. About 5 to 10 percent of all adult sore throats are associated with streptococcus infection. In children, about 15 to 40 percent of sore throats are related to streptococcus infection. Because of the serious implication it may have, sore throat caused by streptococcus infection should be diagnosed immediately.

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When left untreated, it could develop into serious complications, which include rheumatic fever that is capable of damaging the heart and acute nephritis that could damage the kidneys. The onset of strep throat is usually characterized by symptoms like sudden fewer, and severe inflamed throat. Microbes like yeast Candida could also trigger a sore throat.

Exposure to bacterium, which causes gonorrhea through oral sex, could lead to sore throat. Other causes that could lead to chronic sore throat include mouth infection, respiratory infection, and sinus. Smoking cigarettes and excessive consumption of alcohol might also be associated with the condition. In rare cases, a sore throat could be caused by cancer growth in mouth or throat.


Pharyngitis presents as reddening and swelling of the mucosa. You may experience a raw and scratchy throat with a burning sensation and pain. The pain may be felt when one is swallowing. The glands in front of neck may become tender and swollen. One is likely to sneeze and cough as well as develop hoarse voice. Other symptoms are running nose, fatigue, ear ache, and difficulty in breathing.

Dry scratch throat should be subsiding in a few days. However, if you have the condition persisting for more than one week then it means you might be suffering from a chronic condition. When the sore throat persists for a week and it is accompanied by other symptoms like postnasal drip, it could indicate allergies. Besides, if it last for more than two weeks, it may indicate an illness such as cancer or Aids. A hoarseness, which takes more than two weeks, might indicate oral or throat cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment of dry scratchy throat

This condition normally remits spontaneously. However, you should see your doctor is symptoms persist for more than one week. A health professional will examine your throat and ask a few questions about your symptoms. It may be difficult to determine exactly what is causing the sore throat from the physical examination, and tests may be conducted to determine if the cause is arising from a bacterial or viral infection.

In bacterial infection cases, a rapid strep test is conducted. In examining mononucleosis, blood samples are taken to determine the presence of abnormal white cells or antibodies. Infectious mononucleosis entails a wide range of symptoms and it may be difficult to diagnose it immediately prompting the use of blood tests.

In viral pharyngitis, no specific treatment may be required especially if the condition clears up in one week. Specific antiviral may be used in protracted causes. Antibiotics are important in bacterial pharyngitis treatment. Chronic pharyngitis treatment involves removal of the primary causative agent.

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