Everyone knows what a sore throat feels like. It’s one of the most common health complaints, particularly during the colder months of the year, when respiratory diseases are at their peak.

A sore throat refers to pain, itchiness, or irritation of the throat. You may have difficulty swallowing food and liquids, and the pain may get worse when you try to swallow. Throat pain is the primary symptom of a sore throat. However, other symptoms may include a dry throat, swollen glands in the neck, white patches on the tonsils, and hoarseness.

Sore throats can be painful and annoying. Fortunately, most sore throats are caused by a minor illness and go away without medical treatment.

Several conditions can cause a sore throat.

Sore throats may be caused by a viral illness, such as:

  • The common cold, the most common type of viral infection.
  • Infection of the voice box (laryngitis ).
  • Mononucleosis (mono, “the kissing disease”), a viral infection that tends to cause a persistent sore throat.
  • Other viral infections, such as mumps, herpangina, or influenza.
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