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What causes a sore throat?

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Quick Answer

Most sore throats are caused by viral infections such as the common cold, chickenpox, influenza, measles and mononucleosis, reports Mayo Clinic. Bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat, which includes diphtheria, strep throat and whooping cough. Diphtheria is a serious infection but not common.

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What causes a sore throat?
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Full Answer

Allergies that cause a runny nose can start a postnasal drip, according to WebMD. With mucus running down the back of the throat, the possibility for a sore throat increases. Acid reflux may cause an aching throat, dry cough and difficulty swallowing. When acid travels through the esophagus, the throat can become tender and irritated.

Several irritants can also cause throat irritation, including outdoor and indoor air pollution, chemicals, tobacco smoke, eating spicy foods and drinking alcohol, states Mayo Clinic. People who are HIV-positive may have a secondary infection that causes a chronic sore throat.

Those who have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are pregnant may have a higher risk of complications due to viral or bacterial infections from a sore throat, notes WebMD. Contact a health care provider if a sore throat has not gone away after three days, or if there is a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for two days or longer.

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