Although uncomfortable, most sore throats aren't harmful and go away on their own in five to seven days. At times, though, a sore throat can signal a more serious condition. Find out when to seek medical treatment:
Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
People with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing and may also experience pain while swallowing. You may be completely unable to swallow or may have trouble swallowing liquids, foods, or saliva. Eating then becomes a challenge making it difficult to take in adequate calories and fluids.
Epiglottitis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage "lid" that covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the flow of air into your lungs. Epiglottitis is a medical emergency.
Esophageal spasms are an uncoordinated series of muscle contractions that prevent food from traveling properly from your esophagus to your stomach.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which is common. GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter opens spontaneously, for varying periods of time, or does not close properly and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it may cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn or acid indigestion.
Persistent reflux that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems. People of all ages can have GERD.
Laryngospasm is a brief spasm of the vocal cords that temporarily interrupts speech and breathing.
An inflammation or swelling of the vocal folds is called laryngitis. It may be caused by excessive use of the voice, by bacterial or viral infections, or by irritants such as inhaled chemicals or the backup of stomach acid into the throat (gastroesophageal reflux). The voice of someone with laryngitis will often sound raspy, breathy, and hoarse.
Stuttering or Stammering
Stuttering is a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggling behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering is sometimes referred to as stammering and by a broader term, disfluent speech.
The tonsils are lymph nodes in the back of the mouth at the top of the throat. If they become inflamed with a bacterial or viral infection, the condition is called tonsillitis.
Vocal cord paralysis
Vocal cord paralysis is a voice disorder that occurs when one or both of the vocal cords (or vocal folds) do not open or close properly. Vocal cord paralysis is a common disorder, and symptoms can range from mild to life threatening.