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Why does it hurt to talk, eat or swallow?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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I thought post nasal drip was causing my sore throat. My doctor said I have a virus but didn't swab the back of my throat to check for anything else. It hurts to talk, eat anything and even swallow my saliva. I've had it for 7 days now. What else could it be? Should I go back to the doctor?
Thu, 19 Apr 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 15 minutes later

Thanks for posting your query.

The three primary causes of your symptoms (sore throat, painful throat while swallowing and talking) can be due to:

1) Viral sore throat that can be due to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), but can also be caused by other organisms such as cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is diagnosed by mono spot test (takes only a few minutes, and can be done in a physician's office), Epstein-Barr virus antigen by immunofluorescence and Epstein-Barr virus antibody titers. Most people recover within 2-4 weeks without medication.

2) Bacterial sore throat caused by streptococcal bacteria and diagnosed by a throat culture, a rapid strep test and a blood test ASO titers(for any previous infection).

3) Post nasal drip caused by allergies and chronic sinusitis. For ruling it out an ENT examination along with transillumination test of sinuses or x-ray sinuses should be done.

You should go back to your doctor and get the tests especially for viruses and bacteria done. If it is bacterial sore throat you need a course of antibiotics.

Till then, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and use over-the-counter throat lozenges. Salt water gargle is also a good way to relieve a sore throat. In addition, take anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen) after consulting your general physician. Sucking hard candies and ginger lemon tea and inhaling steam would also help in opening the sinus congestion and hence the symptoms.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.
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