Why Is My Throat Burning?

The storms are blowing in, the calendar’s filling up and common winter complaints like the cold and flu are becoming all too common. Tis the season for sniffling, sneezing, and the discomfort of a burning throat, but you may be surprised to hear that there’s more than one reason for that throat pain.

Do you know what’s causing it?

Causes of a burning throat

We’ve all been there. Those first swallows that feel a little scratchy gradually becoming more like a fiery pain that makes you want to avoid food, drink, and swallowing all-together. It can be painful and frustrating, especially when you aren’t sure exactly what’s causing it. Here are the most common causes of a burning throat:

  • A virus – whether it’s the common cold, a more serious flu, or even infectious mononucleosis (commonly known as Mono), viruses are a common cause of a painful burning throat. In some cases, it’s the bug itself that causes the burn, and in others, it’s congestion that changes breathing patterns and leaves the throat dry and sore. Symptoms like these in addition to the burning throat can help you spot these viruses as the culprit:
    • Cold – congestion, runny nose, coughs, headaches
    • Flu – fever, headaches, muscle aches
    • Mono – fever, rash, extreme fatigue, headaches
  • Strep throat – This may be the first thing you think of when you first start feeling that painful swallowing sensation. This and similar bacterial infections of the throat are common causes of a burning throat and do require medical attention. It may also come with fever, headaches, and even nausea and swelling in the throat.
  • Tonsillitis – Who hasn’t worried they may have this when they have a long-lasting sore throat? Our tonsils, always ready to help defend against bacteria and viruses, sometimes become infected themselves leading to painful swallowing, swelling, fever, and earaches.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – Unlike many other reasons, this cause of a burning throat isn’t the result of a virus or bacteria. This weakening of muscles in the digestive system simply causes dysfunction that allows food and stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus. This, in turn, can lead to a burning feeling in the esophagus and throat. Dietary changes can often help minimize the effects and prevent that burning throat.

There is no doubt that a burning throat can be a real pain, but there are ways to help soothe it.

Soothing the burning

Now that you have a better idea of what might be causing your burning throat, it’s important to take steps to relieve it and get back to the fun that this time of year can bring.

If you believe your painful throat is caused by a bacterial infection like Strep Throat or a more severe virus such as the flu or Mono, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe medication to help resolve it or recognize a case of tonsillitis for an ear, nose, and throat doctor to take a look at.

To manage a burning throat until a virus runs its course or antibiotics take effect, drink plenty of water, tea, broth, and other fluids to stay hydrated. Traditional home remedies such as hot water with lemon and honey can also help soothe the throat and the soul.

If you have a painful throat that doesn’t seem to be resolving, reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.


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