The common causes of a sore throat and a stuffy nose include viruses, bacteria, allergies, and post-nasal drip. These can bring about cold and flu-like symptoms, and often include a cough, fever, and fatigue as well. A sore throat also can make it difficult — even painful — to speak and swallow.
The common cold is the most familiar cause of a sore throat and a stuffy nose. It is usually brought on by viruses that are either inhaled in the process of breathing, or picked up by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. During this time, a person may suffer from a stuffy nose, nasal congestion, sore throat and coughing.
Post-nasal drip from a stuffy nose can also contribute to a sore throat. It may be caused by the common cold, pregnancy, cold temperatures, dry air, and even by spicy foods and certain medications. Post-nasal drip is a condition in which an excess amount of mucus is produced and ends up running down the back of the throat instead of exiting the body via the nose. This often causes the person suffering from it to frequently clear his or her throat in an attempt to get rid of the mucus, which over time can lead to coughing and throat pain.
Bacteria can cause a strep throat infection, which often has the same symptoms as a cold, but more severe. The most obvious symptom is a severe sore throat, but a fever, chills, nausea, and a stuffy nose may also develop. Strep throat can progress to scarlet fever, tonsillitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
Allergies are another common cause of a sore throat and a stuffy nose. An allergic reaction is when the immune system overreacts to a certain food or a foreign substance, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, insect bites, and foods — especially peanuts and dairy. When one of these substances enters the body, and the immune system does not recognize it, it produces excess mucus to protect the body from the foreign intruder. This can lead to a stuffy and runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat in some cases.
People can help protect themselves from a sore throat and a stuffy nose by eating a healthy diet, which will help to build up the immune system. Dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis also can help to reduce the frequency of allergies. In the winter, a humidifier is helpful in keeping the air moist.