Throat Issues: Throat Disorders

Throat problems can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and worrisome as they can disrupt basic functions like drinking, and swallowing food, and make breathing uncomfortable. While many problems in the throat clear up on their own, persistent throat disorders can be a sign of larger issues that require the attention of a doctor.

An ENT doctor can work with other doctors, such as allergists and otolaryngologists, to diagnose and treat throat disorders if the problems persist or become more severe.

Common Throat Conditions

The throat is consistently exposed to a variety of bacteria, viruses, and anything else you inhale or eat, making it a frequent target of health issues. While some throat conditions can be due to environmental factors, such as a dry environment or allergy, others can be due to a developing condition or infection. Some of the most common throat issues include:

  • Chronic cough: a cough that lasts longer than 8 weeks that can disrupt sleep and day-to-day activities. A chronic cough can be a symptom of many conditions and lead to a sore throat as well.
  • Sore throat: a sore or scratchy throat caused by an irritation that can be more painful when swallowing. Most sore throats are caused by viral infections, such as the flu, though can also be strep throat. If diagnosed with strep throat, a doctor would need to prescribe antibiotics as strep is a bacterial infection.
  • Poor lubrication: the lack of saliva in the throat can make swallowing much more difficult and can have several causes, such as a tumor, Sjogren’s Syndrome, a condition in the esophagus, mouth, or larynx. 
  • Vocal cord dysfunction: occurs when vocal cords close abnormally, resulting in breathing issues
  • Throat cancer: while fairly uncommon when compared to other types of cancers, it is a potential throat problem.

Common Symptoms for Throat Disorders

Throat conditions are usually very noticeable and have a range of symptoms that can mean several issues that would require a doctor to diagnose properly:

  • Throat mucus or lump in throat: also known as a post nasal drip, phlegm, mucus, or the feeling of something in the throat (lump), it is one of the most common throat problems.
  • Burning throat: a burning sensation in the throat and mouth that can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as acid reflux disease, an infection, and allergies.
  • Hoarseness: a common symptom that often suddenly resolves on its own over the course of days or weeks. A prolonged change to the voice can be a symptom of a more serious condition that requires a medical diagnosis.
  • Trouble breathing: the sensation of breathing through a straw, not inhaling enough air.
  • Trouble swallowing or dysphagia: difficulty swallowing can include several areas connected to the throat, such as the mouth, vocal cords, and esophagus.