6. Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis, or “mono,” is a highly contagious illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. The virus spreads through bodily fluids like saliva, which is why it’s sometimes called the kissing disease.

Symptoms usually appear four to six weeks after you’re infected. A severe sore throat is one sign of mono. Others include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • fever
  • body aches
  • headaches
  • swollen glands in the neck and armpits
  • rash

7. Peritonsillar abscess

Peritonsillar abscess is an infection of the head and neck. Pus collects in the back of the throat, making the throat swollen and painful.

Peritonsillar abscess is often a complication of tonsillitis. If you don’t treat this condition, the swelling can push your tonsil into the middle of your throat and block your breathing.

Other symptoms include:

  • trouble swallowing or opening your mouth wide
  • swollen glands in your neck
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • swelling of your face

8. Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome feels like you’ve burned or scalded the inside of your mouth and throat, when you haven’t. It may be caused by problems with nerves, or a condition like dry mouth.

The burning pain can be in your throat and entire mouth, including your cheeks, lips, tongue, and the roof of your mouth. You might also have:

  • increased thirst
  • a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth
  • loss of taste

9. Is it cancer?

In rare cases, pain or burning when you swallow can be a symptom of esophageal or throat cancer. Colds, the flu, and other infections that cause this symptom are much more common.

A burning throat from an infection should improve within a week or two. With cancer, the pain won’t go away.

Cancer can also cause symptoms like:

  • trouble swallowing, or a feeling like food is stuck in your throat
  • a cough that doesn’t get better or that brings up blood
  • constant heartburn
  • chest pain
  • unexplained weight loss
  • a hoarse voice or other voice changes
  • vomiting

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, see your doctor. They can determine the cause and advise you on any next steps.

How to soothe the burning

When your throat feels raw and sore, there are a few things you can do to find relief:

  1. Gargle with a mixture of 8 ounces warm water and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Suck on a throat lozenge.
  3. Drink warm liquids, such as tea with honey. Or, eat ice cream. Both cold and heat feel good on a sore throat.
  4. Turn on a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to the air. This will prevent your throat from drying out.
  5. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  6. Drink lots of extra fluids, especially water.

When to see your doctor

Oftentimes, a sore throat will get better within a few days. But if the pain continues for more than a week — or it’s unusually severe — see your doctor.

You should also see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms alongside a burning throat:

  • fever of 101°F (38°C) or higher
  • blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • trouble swallowing or opening your mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • pus on your tonsils
  • rash
  • a lump in your neck
  • hoarse voice that lasts more than two weeks

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