Common throat infections

Common throat infections

Throat infections can quite easily be passed round from person to person and are one of the main causes of a sore throat. Below, you can find out exactly what a throat infection is as well as some of the more common types of infections.

What is a throat infection?

In around 90 per cent of cases, a throat infection is caused by a virus, though it can also be bacterial. These viruses can be picked up from other people, but most are usually not harmful or dangerous, and could be the reason for your sore throat. Throat infections are certainly treatable, depending on the kind of infection you have. You could try taking Chloralieve’s throat lozenges that help to fight infections and relieve your sore throat. Alternatively, for a bacterial infection, a doctor may recommend antibiotics or another form of treatment[1].

Types of throat infections

  • Strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can cause a very sore throat, as well as other symptoms like pain when swallowing, an inflamed throat or tonsils, small red spots on the roof of the mouth and swollen glands in your neck. The bacterial infection is caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria Streptococcus, hence the name ‘strep throat’. It’s usually more common in children aged five to 15, but anyone can contract it at any age[2].

Is strep throat dangerous?

Strep throat isn’t anything to worry about. Generally, a test can be taken by the doctor to determine whether the symptoms are caused by strep and, if they are, antibiotics may be provided to kill the Streptococcus bacteria that’s present and reduce symptoms. A doctor may treat a child differently, so do keep this in mind. There can occasionally be further complications with this infection, but these are rare. The bacteria can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and cause sinus or ear infections. However, as long as the infection is treated suitably, this is unlikely to happen[2].

  • Common cold or flu

A sore throat is one of the most common symptoms associated with the common cold or flu, and these illnesses are caused by a virus. Viruses can be passed from person to person via bodily fluids, such as saliva, and turn into viral infections. The common cold and the flu are caused by different kinds of viruses, and this explains why symptoms can differ between the two. With the flu, you’ll likely experience a fever, muscle aches, fatigue and a headache, whereas common cold symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy nose, a sore throat and a cough[3,4].

  • Tonsillitis

A sore throat can sometimes be a sign of tonsillitis, a condition that is generally more common in children and young adults[5].

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an unusual condition because it can be caused by both bacteria or a virus, unlike strep throat or the common cold, which can only be caused by one. A sore throat isn’t the only symptom, and you may also struggle to swallow or have a high temperature, cough or headache. Tonsillitis can normally go untreated, however you should seek advice from a GP if the symptoms persist after four days[5].

Is tonsillitis infectious?

Tonsillitis is usually passed from person to person as it is quite infectious. This means that if you have the condition, you should avoid public places, including work or school, until symptoms have been and gone. Where possible, cough into a tissue and dispose of it correctly and wash your hands regularly. Washing your hands can also prevent you from contracting the infection if someone you know has it[5].