What are the Most Common Causes of a Throat Infection?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
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A throat infection can be painful and extremely bothersome, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as fever and fatigue. It is often necessary to visit a doctor to find out the exact cause of a throat infection. Some common causes of infection include mononucleosis, strep throat, and allergies. These infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or other sources. Treatment methods vary based on the exact cause of the infection.

Mononucleosis can lead to a throat infection and is caused by a virus. Fever and swollen lymph glands are common with this type of infection as well. Mononucleosis is a contagious disease and is spread through close contact with an infected person, especially through contact with saliva. This condition will eventually go away on its own, and prescription medications typically have little or no effect on this type of viral infection. Symptoms may be lessened by drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications as necessary.

Strep throat is a type of bacterial throat infection caused by a bacteria known as streptococcus. Common symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, fever, and stomach issues such as nausea. Strep throat is contagious, so an infected person should stay home from work and school while sick. Prescription antibiotics and over-the-counter pain medications are commonly used to treat strep throat.


Allergies can lead to a throat infection in some cases. Seasonal or environmental allergies, especially if left untreated, can leave the immune system compromised and prone to infections of the throat, ears, and sinus cavity. Proper treatment of these allergies, whether by the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, may help to treat or prevent this type of throat infection.

While medications may often be needed in order to cure a throat infection, other measures may be taken to help ease symptoms as well. Gargling with warm salt water several times per day can help to soothe a sore throat. Throat lozenges or hard candy such as peppermints may help to keep the throat lubricated, thus easing some of the pain or discomfort.

Any type of throat infection can be contagious, so precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of the infection to others. One important way to help avoid the spread of the infection is to always cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Proper hand washing is particularly important, and hand sanitizers may be used between hand washings to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria or viruses.



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