Throat infections are very common in both children and adults alike; the usual type of throat infection to affect both groups is one of a viral nature.
What Is A Viral Throat Infection?
Viral throat infections are caused when a virus attacks the throat. These viruses can enter the body in many ways such as with the flu virus, head colds or more specific viral causes such as mononucleosis.
Viruses spread more rapidly in the winter months for two main reasons. Firstly people tend to spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other than in warmer months meaning that viruses in saliva are more likely to be shared through talking, laughing, coughing and even leaving tissues lying around. Secondly, as we are protected indoors, our immune systems can adapt to the environment and mean that it is slightly weaker than when it is faced with the outside world.
What Are The Symptoms?
Throat infections can vary in different people with some suffering mild discomfort to others finding it very difficult to swallow. The pain can begin as a dryness of the throat with an increased discomfort when swallowing along with the voice becoming deeper, harsher and less able to reach high volumes. This can lead to generalised pain and discomfort most of the time and increase to feeling as though you are unable to swallow at all, or having to make a great effort to swallow, even your own saliva.
In some cases it is common to experience a head cold with the sore throat and this can bring congestion, sinus pain, a runny nose, a cough (which can aggravate the throat pain) and a high temperature.
Feeling unwell with a sore throat doesn’t happen all the time, but is more likely to occur if a head cold or other illness is present.You may also suffer from swelling to the throat and the surrounding glands and tissues as the tissues becomes inflamed and the body struggles to fight the virus and heal.
How Are They Treated?
Viral throat infections are best treated at home as they will not respond to anti-biotic treatment as many people are mislead. At the present time there is no anti-biotic that will eliminate a virus and the people who request anti-biotics as a treatment option are taking medications unnecessarily.
Most viral throat infections will simply heal without medical treatment as the body uses its own resources to rid the cells of the infection.
Drinking plenty of water will help to keep the body and therefore the cells hydrated which will help your own immune system fight the infection. If drinking water or other thin fluids is difficult, try milkshakes, ice lollies, or soups as these are thicker and easier to swallow.
Mild pain relief will help to keep your temperature down and our pain minimal, and throat lozenges can help to numb the tissues of throat and aid swallowing and relieve pain.
It is very helpful to avoid dry or smoky atmospheres as this will exacerbate your symptoms and may prolong your illness.
For most people, these measures do help relieve some of the symptoms but they don’t cure the infection and nature will have to take its course. Viral throat infections generally don’t last longer than a week, but if your symptoms do worsen after this time, especially after following the treatment measures, please see your doctor as your may have developed a bacterial throat infection that may need anti-biotic treatment.
Viral throat infections are very common and are usually not harmful in the long term and it is usually recommended to get some rest, take mild pain killers and drink plenty of fluids to overcome the complaint or just to ride-out the illness.
Do you think your throat problem might be bacterial? Take a look at our feature on bacterial throat infections for more information about how to identify it and the potential treatments.
I have a viral throat infection.Had it for a couple of days.I feel dreadful.The pain when I swallow is like no pain I have felt before.I also have a high temperature and swollen glands.GP just recommended all the above.I think the gargling with aspirin is helping the most.
Mary Poppins - 23-Nov-17 @ 1:47 PM
@Ash - OMG that sounds awful. I hope you recover soon. It makes my throat infection not worth complaining about!
NickyJ - 21-Nov-17 @ 2:28 PM
I've got this right now, and my god I've never felt so poorly & I've had everything that could come with it, severe headache, runny nose very bad cough etc. etc. the cough is so bad to the point where I'm sick 3/4 times a day! I went to the Dr last night he said plenty of rest and gave me a asthma pump because I can hardly breathe! worst thing I've had I reckon! :( get well soon guys!
Ash - 21-Nov-17 @ 7:23 AM
Hi, I got virus infection had for over a week now been to the docs and not give nothing for it
Main thing is I cough bad in the morn for 3hours and night time from 6-8 depending on the time though pig sick of coughing given me bad head ear ache back throat aching with pains etc...
ashtoon - 7-Aug-17 @ 5:19 PM
Hello, my daughter has no tonsils but has a high temperature and small blistery type ulcers on the back of her throat.They look clear'ish and not at all like they have pus in them.i was thinking maybe viral strep throat?Is that even possible??Any ideas or comments would be appreciated as ive just had surgery and cannot get out of the house and have no one to help us.The doctor is against a home visit and wants us to come down but i cant afford the taxi fare.Please help with any advise.Thanks.
Natty - 14-Nov-16 @ 11:06 AM
gem - Your Question:
Hi I know this thread was from couple of years ago! but I need help if anyone can! I have had a very painful throat for over a week, and my ear feels like I am under water, doc said I have a virus! how long should it last. Im in so much pain its unreal! A week today is Christmas eve and I want to be better! :-(
I'm sure you will be better by then. Hopefully your doc has prescribed you some medication such as antibiotics which should clear it up in no time. I hope you feel better soon.
ThroatProblems - 18-Dec-15 @ 12:18 PM
Hi i know this thread was from couple of years ago! but i need help if anyone can! i have had a very painful throat for over a week, and my ear feels like i am under water, doc said i have a virus! how long should it last.. Im in so much pain its unreal!
A week today is Christmas eve and i want to be better! :-(
gem - 17-Dec-15 @ 6:20 PM
going by elimination, my problem must be viral throat inffection. i was treated for bacterial with very strong antibiotics, another with very strong anti fungal, but it never changed, its just there swollen, the tonsi area visibly like honeycomb it has been for one year now, not painful only discomport when swallowing and gives me fear of chocking on anything i eat , i dont take roast maize, sugarcane and related foods since they can chock me.
what can i do?
panthera - 28-Oct-12 @ 2:02 PM
Popsicles work great for a viral throat infection, mine lasted 4 days and was very painful when I swallowed.
Daffie - 10-Oct-12 @ 5:20 PM
Ive just developed a viral throat infection (a week before my hen do!) and I went to my GP and she recommended gargling soluable aspirin to alleviate pain. I've got a headache and photo sensitivity too. My fiancé bought me ice cream which helps too and I had a nasty temperature and hallucinations which he cooled with a wet flannel on my eyes, face and neck. Just waiting for it to go now so I can feel normal.
Becki - 18-Aug-12 @ 9:18 PM
I have a viral throat infection my question is when i cough i bring up mucus is that normal with my condition ?
davey - 16-Aug-12 @ 7:38 PM
i am vipin i had a problem last three years in my throat there little bit thick mucus and i fell difficulties to swallow when i eat spice food ,i feel very relief in my throat and runny nose itchy eyes sneezy manny times and conjection throat quite pain i have many antiboitics but there is no relieve .
vipin - 9-Aug-12 @ 5:48 PM
Im at school right now, researching on throat infection which I just have, thanks for the tip for drinking more water, will sure do that!Throat kills at the moment, hope it goes soon!