Scratchy Throat in Adults & Babies: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Scratchy Throat?

A sore throat (Scratchy Throat) is also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis. A sore throat is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. A sore throat often makes it painful to swallow. Sore throats are common, especially in children.

Scratchy Throat

Scratchy Throat

Sore throats are divided into types, based on the part of the throat they affect:

  • Pharyngitis affects the area right behind the mouth.
  • Tonsillitis is swelling and redness of the tonsils, the soft tissue in the back of the mouth.
  • Laryngitis is swelling and redness of the voice box, or larynx


Causes of a sore throat

The cause of a sore throat isn’t always obvious. But in most cases it’s a symptom of a viral or bacterial infection.


Common Scratchy Throat Cause in Adults

A sore throat causes that often happens in adults cause by the following:

  • colds or flu: you may also have a blocked or runny nose, a cough, a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches
  • laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box): you may also have a hoarse voice, a dry cough and a constant need to clear your throat
  • tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils): you may also have red or spotty tonsils, discomfort when swallowing and a fever
  • strep throat (a bacterial throat infection): you may also have swollen glands in your neck, discomfort when swallowing and tonsillitis
  • glandular fever: you may also feel very tired and have a fever and swollen glands in your neck
  • It may also be caused by something irritating your throat, such as smoke
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (where acid leaks up from the stomach) and allergies.
  • Dryness: Dry indoor air, especially when buildings are heated, can make your throat feel rough and scratchy.
  • Allergies: Allergies to pet dander, molds, dust and pollen can cause a sore throat.
  • Irritant: Outdoor air pollution can cause ongoing throat irritation.
  • Muscle strain: You can strain muscles in your throat by yelling, talking for a long time with no rest, etc.
  • Tumors: Cancerous tumors of the throat, tongue or voice box (larynx) can cause a sore throat.
  • Sinus drainage (post-nasal drip) from allergic or chronic sinusitis.
  • Infection of the tonsils or adenoids
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can cause a dry mouth, a temporary condition where the mouth and throat don’t have enough saliva. This may cause an itchy feeling in the throat.
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Less common causes, a sore throat can be a sign of:

  • quinsy (a painful collection of pus at the back of the throat) – the pain may be severe and you may also have difficulty opening your mouth or difficulty swallowing
  • epiglottitis (inflammation of the flap of tissue at the back of the throat) – the pain may be severe and you may have difficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing


Common Scratchy Throat Cause in Babies and Toddler

Scratchy or sore throat is a condition that is caused by a viral or a bacterial infection of the throat. This infection of the throat in babies causes inflammation on the inside of the baby’s throat.

  • Flu

If baby has flu, in most cases the flu tends to cause sore throat in babies. Runny nose or stuff nose can be a sign that your baby has flu.

  • Viral Infection

A more serious cause of sore throat in babies is contagious or non-contagious viral diseases. These viral diseases can be spread via the hand, foot or mouth of the baby.

  • Herpangina

Another common cause of sore throat is a contagious viral disease called Herpangina.

  • Strep Throat

Bacterial infection called strep-throat is another cause of sore throat in babies.

  • Dust allergies
  • measles

An illness that causes a rash and fever

  • chickenpox

An infection that causes a fever and an itchy, bumpy rash

  • mumps

An infection that causes swelling of the salivary glands in the neck


Symptom of Scratchy Throat in Adults and Babies

The symptoms of sore throat essentially are pain in the throat, pain when swallowing, eating or drinking.


Scratchy Throat in Adults

Sore throat symptoms can vary depending on what caused it. A sore throat can feel:

  • scratchy
  • burning
  • raw
  • dry
  • tender
  • irritated
  • hoarse voice
  • body aches
  • headache
  • trouble swallowing
  • appetite loss
  • It may hurt when swallow or talk
  • throat or tonsils might look red
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • cough
  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen glands in the neck
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Scratchy Throat in Babies

  • Baby crying excessively, especially while being fed
  • Redness of the baby’s throat
  • Baby is irritable and restless
  • Swollen glands
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Cough


How to Diagnose Scratchy Throat?

  • Swab from the back of your throat is done to send to the laboratory to see which type of germ is causing your sore throat.
  • Blood test may be needed if glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) is suspected.
  • Radiologic imaging (a CT scan) of the throat and neck area may necessary to evaluate other various causes of sore throat (abscess, trauma/injury, tumor, etc.).


Medication and Treatment for Scratchy Throat

Treatment for Scratchy Throat

Treatment for Scratchy Throat

Sore throat treatment at home by following remedies:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking lots of fluid
  • Eating smooth, soothing foods like gelatin, ice cream, shakes, frozen desserts, and soup
  • Avoiding crunchy or spicy foods
  • Using a vaporizer
  • hot tea with lemon and honey
  • a spoonful of honey to coat the throat
  • salt water gargles
  • humidifying the air
  • sucking on ice chips

Over-the-counter medications may relieve cold and sore throat symptoms. Some sore throats medicine includes:

  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen and naproxen, to relieve the aches and pains of a cold and sore throat. (Aspirin should not be given to children because of its link to Reye’s syndrome, a disorder that can cause brain damage and death.)
  • Sore throat sprays and lozenges to soothe your throat and numb the throat pain temporarily. (Lozenges should not be given to young children.)
  • Decongestant nasal sprays to relieve a sore throat caused by postnasal drip: nasal drainage that runs down your throat. (Be sure to stop using nasal decongestant sprays after three days, or you may have an increase in congestion when you stop them.)
  • Antihistamines: Block the effect of histamines
  • Decongestants: Reduce mucus membrane swelling within the nasal passages
  • Anti-inflammatories or pain relievers: Ease your aches, pains or fever
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Prevent Scratchy Throats

Reduce the risk of an itchy throat with:

  • quit smoking
  • drink plenty of water
  • wash hands frequently during cold and flu season
  • avoid opening windows and going outside during allergy season
  • Not sharing food, liquids, or eating or drinking utensils with an infected person
  • Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid touching public phones or drinking fountains with your mouth
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol


When You Have to Get Emergency Medical Treatment

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty or inability to swallow food or liquid
  • Unable to open the mouth
  • Unable to swallow saliva, or drooling
  • Severe throat pain
  • Making noises during breathing
  • Bleeding in the throat
  • Swelling or redness of the neck
  • sore joints
  • a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)
  • painful or stiff neck
  • earache
  • blood in your saliva or phlegm

a sore throat that lasts for more than a week and not responsive to any sore throat treatment.

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