Dr David Lowinger MBBS FRACS Ear Nose & Throat Specialist Surgeon
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Adults

Throat Problems

The throat or pharynx is a tubular structure passing from oral and nasal cavities to your esophagus and larynx. Food enters esophagus and air enters through windpipe into larynx (voice box).

Throat being the common passage for food and air is more susceptible to infections and other conditions.

Sore throat: It is the most common throat disorder. It is often caused due to common cold and flu. Other conditions that may cause sore throat include, allergies, infection with streptococcal bacteria, smoking, tonsillitis (infection in the tonsils) and infectious mononucleosis (viral infection). Patients with sore throat may experience pain and difficulty in breathing and swallowing. Fever may also accompany. Sucking on lozenges, hard candies, salt water gargles, drinking lots of liquids and gargling may provide temporary relief from pain. For recurrent sore throat, antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin are prescribed.

Tonsillitis: Tonsillitis refers to inflammation of the tonsils by viruses or bacteria. Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system located at the back of the throat. Tonsils trap the bacteria and other germs travelling through the body to prevent infection. Tonsillitis is characterized by sore throat, pain, trouble swallowing, nausea, vomiting, cough, headache, abnormal voice changes, runny nose, fever, redness and tenderness of the tonsils and ear pain. Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be recommended to relieve throat pain and fever. Antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin may be prescribed. You may be advised to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Gargling with warm salt water may help in reducing sore throat pain.

Surgery to remove the tonsils, known as tonsillectomy may be indicated in patients with recurrent or persistent infections or in severe cases.

Pharyngitis: It is the inflammation of the pharynx (throat) caused by viruses or bacteria. The main symptom is a sore throat; other symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, skin rashes, and enlarged and tender lymph nodes. Sucking on lozenges, hard candies, salt water gargles, drinking lots of liquids and gargling may provide temporary relief from pain. To prevent rare but serious complications such as rheumatic fever and diphtheria, antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin v may be recommended. Medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be recommended to relieve throat pain and fever. Benzocaine and throat sprays may help reduce the pain.

Throat cancer: Cancers in the tissues of the pharynx, larynx (voice box) or tonsils are referred as cancers of throat. The most common risk f actor for developing cancer of the throat is use of tobacco both smoking and smokeless tobacco. Other risk factors include increased age, chronic alcoholism, chewing betel nut, human papillomavirus infection, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. Throat cancer may cause a lump that does not heal, makes swallowing difficult, persistent sore throat, hoarseness or changes in voice and ear pain. Biopsy and other tests may be performed to confirm the presence and type of cancer. Treatment options include radiation therapy or surgery. A combination of radiation and chemotherapy is often used in case of large tumors. The surgical option for throat cancers is laryngectomy, a surgery to remove all or part of the voice box. Activities such as eating, speaking or even breathing become difficult following the surgery. Therefore you may be advised for speech and swallowing therapy that helps you learn to cope with the changes in the structure of the throat.

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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons The Australian Society Of Otolaryngology Head And Neck Surgery Australian New Zealand Society of Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ANZSPO) The University of New South Wales The University of Sydney Harvard Medical School

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