My Throat Hurts when I Swallow: Sharp Pain, on One Side, not Sick, Remedy

Is your throat hurting? Or is your throat painful when swallowing? This article provides a detailed, insightful view on causes of a hurting throat, care instructions, home remedies and when to see a doctor.

My Throat Hurts when I Swallow

Swallowing involves many nerves and muscles in the mouth, throat area and the esophagus (tube that moves food to the stomach). Part of swallowing is voluntary but much of it involuntary. Problem at any point of swallowing (moving food to the back of the mouth) can result in painful swallowing.

A sore throat is normally a symptom of a viral or occasionally bacterial infection .it can be caused by the viruses responsible for colds and flu-like illness. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat a virus.

Sometimes a sore throat is caused by the bacteria streptococcus pyogenes. If the bacteria are the cause, you tend to become very unwell and your infection seems to get much worse. Your body will normally fight off the infection within a week without the need for medical treatment. But if the sore throat is caused by bacteria, you need treatment with antibiotics.

A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold and is often accompanied by other cold symptoms that may include sneezing, coughing, and running nose.

What does it mean if it hurts to swallow

When it comes to illness, one of the common symptoms we experience is sore throat. We know the feeling of that oncoming cold with the throat, irritation and the swollen glands that serve to make swallowing painful. A cold is by no means the only reason for a sore throat. In many situations we feel the pain of swallowing without ever developing a cold. This is because there are so many causes that can lead to pain when we swallow.

There are  two explanations, that have been advanced to be the reasons behind what it means, if you find yourself with the  symptoms of bacterial infection, such as your sore hurting when swallowing  food or taking  a drink. They include: Gastroesophagael reflux disease (GERD)   and exposure to bacterial or virus risk factors.

  1. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

It is a digestive system disorder in which stomach acids or other contents of the stomach back up in food pipe (esophagus). Other symptoms may include heartburn, regurgitation of stomach contents and the sensation of a lump in your throat.

  1. Exposure to risk factors.

Although anyone can get a sore throat, some factors can make you susceptible, these are:

  • Children and teens are most likely to develop sore throat. Children are also more likely to have strep throat, the most common bacterial infection associated with a sore throat.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking and second hand smoke can irritate the throat.
  • Exposure to chemical irritants. Particles in the air from burning fossil fuels and common household chemicals can cause throat irritation.
  • Weakened immunity. You are more susceptible to infections in general if your resistance is low.
  • Seasonal allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, molds or pet dander, make developing a sore throat more likely.

What to do when you’re Throat Hurts really bad

There are several things one can do when your throat hurts, in most cases your doctor will prescribe antibiotics that will manage your pain in your throat. The following can be done:

  • Get plenty of rest to give your body a chance to fight the infection.
  • Drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier to keep your throat moist is also essential.
  • Gargle with warm salt water several times each day to reduce the pain.
  • Avoid irritants like cleaning product or paints fumes that can make your throat uncomfortable.
  • Avoid acidic or spicy foods that can aggravate the situation.
  • Eat soothing foods like soft fruits, cooked cereal, applesauce or soft cooked eggs.
  • Take over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen to reduce the throat pain.
  • Use short term pain reliever such as sucking on some hard candy or throat lozenge. Although this is not recommended for children, because lozenge are a choking risk.
  • Eat lots of fruits rich in vitamin C and vegetables. Vitamin C boosts your immune system, helping you fight bacterial and viral infections.
  • Avoid smoking and smoky places.

If your throat hurts badly in addition to following symptoms, it is advisable to see  a professional doctor for  further consultation.

  • Chill
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Sour taste in your mouth
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Black colored stool

What causes your Throat to hurt when you Swallow

The most common reason that it can hurt to swallow is because of an infection. Whether a virus, fungus, or bacteria causes it, the inflammation that results from an infection will frequently make swallowing painful. There are several causes why the throat can hurt when we swallow. Some of the causes can be as enumerated below:

  1. Viral infections of the saliva glands. Viruses are the most likely causes of throat infection. A viral infection can develop in the can develop in the saliva glands making them swollen and tender. The most common type of virus that affect the saliva glands is cold virus though it does not cause throat pain like other types of viruses.
  2. Allergies from dust, pollen or dander can result to throat pain along with watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing. The symptoms are generally likely to be worse during winter season; however you are likely to have an itchy than a painful throat.
  3. Stomach Acid in the Throat. People with heartburn or acid reflex may find swallowing difficult, particularly if they are not controlling condition. The acid passing through the mouth irritates and damages the throat and vocal chords even if you don’t feel heartburn. This will lead to inflammation that can make swallowing both difficult and painful. If the acid reflux remains untreated, the acid can also burn the lining of the throat leading to pain. When this happen, it can take quite a while for the throat to heal meaning that pain will persist.
  4. Medications and cancer Therapy. A sore throat is a common side-effect due to decrease in saliva production. This is especially severe at nighttime, when the mouth and throat lining become dry and irritated. Drugs used for depression and allergies often have these effects. Cancer treatment can also lead to throat pain. Both radiation and chemotherapy may cause mucositis, where the soft tissues throughout the digestive tract, including in the mouth and throat, develop sores and become inflamed.
  1. Canker sores. Aside from the many forms of infection that can lead to throat pain when swallowing another reason for the pain is as a result of canker sores and ulcers in the throat. Though canker sores are mostly experienced around the teeth and gums, they can also occur in the back and top areas of the throat where it can be difficult to see them.
  2. Bacterial infection. Although less common than viral infections, bacterial infections can also happen.  In many cases, these types of infection are more severe and some may require antibiotics to speed recovery. However, antibiotics are not always required as many people who are generally healthy can overcome such infections on their own. The following species of bacteria can cause throat pain:
  • Streptococcus bacteria. This is the most common bacterial infection causing throat pain. This bacterial infection cause the patients throat and tonsils to appear red and swollen, so swallowing becomes difficult.
  • This can also cause pain when you swallow for example Chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are contracted during oral sex.
  1. Fungal infection. Fungal infections of the mouth are most common when a person has a weakened immune system. For some people change in moisture or environment in the mouth can lead to excess growth of fungus that will live in the mouth. For example thrust is one such a condition where fungal Candida grows out of control this then result in many small, painful sores in the mouth and throat.
  2. Cold and flu. The cold virus can directly affect the throat the throat, creating a persistent burning feeling, plus coughing and constant throat clearing can be irritating, making swallowing painful.
  3. Dry air. Throat is easily damaged with dry air, for example from forced air heating or air conditioning. These processes remove much of the moisture in air and hence it becomes irritating when you inhale.

People who breathe through the mouth  perhaps due to stuffy nose, or if the mouth is open while sleeping are likely to suffer throat pain. When breathing through the mouth, the dry air comes in contact with the throat, hence irritating it.

How do you stop Your Throat from Hurting when you swallow

There are several medications that can provide relief from a sore throat. Most of them are over the counter and can provide relief from a sore throat. Some of the medication include: NSAIDs, Sprays, Lozenges and many more.
NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) help to relieve inflammation  and sore throat pain without causing stomach discomfort. Two types of such medication are ibuprofen and aspirin.
Sprays: Lidocaine sprays and other numbing medications sprayed into the throat have been found to effectively reduce throat pain.
Lozenges: throat lozenges containing Lidocaine or other types of numbing medicines may help soothe a sore throat.

Sharp Pain in Throat when swallowing on one side

Pain that appears on one side is typically caused by inflamed tonsils, lymph nodes and lymphatic tissue. This can be caused by particles becoming caught and inflamed in this tissue or a bacterial or viral infection. A sore throat can be caused by a localized infection that may cause only one side of the throat to become inflamed. A variety of conditions can cause this type of infection, each with a slightly varied set of symptoms. These conditions include:

  1. Tonsillitis

This occurs when your tonsils become inflamed from an infection, whether it be from a virus or bacteria. A severe sore throat on the left side or right side or throughout the entire throat is experienced.
This condition can cause a throat to be very painful on one side. Peritonsillar is a complication of tonsillitis which develops a pus-filled sore near the tonsils.

  1. Strep throat.

Is a bacterial infection that targets one side of the throat region and sometimes will begin on one side and spread over to the other side.

  1. Vocal cord nodules

This is a condition where the calluses that appear on the vocal cord after a continuous use of the voice with little rest. They can make one side of the throat very sore.

  1. Swollen lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes from an illness such as a cold or ear infection can be felt on either side at times. When the neck lymph nodes become enlarged, they are usually felt more on one side.

  1. Dental procedure

Dental procedure can result in a sore throat on only one side. An abscessed tooth or gum disease can cause your throat to ache, particularly if there is an infection that can spread into the throat region.

Throat Pain Home Remedies

  1. Cinnamon almond milk

Cinnamon is a fragrant and delicious spice that’s high in antioxidants and provides antibacterial benefits.
It is a traditional remedy for colds and flu’s and is used in manufacture of medicine that eases sore throat pain.
Below is how to go about it,
Ingredients: one cup of almond milk, half tea-spoon grounded cinnamon, (0.6ml) of baking soda

  • Place cinnamon and baking soda in a saucepan and mix together
  • Add almond milk and stir the mixture well
  • Heat the mixture until it just begins to simmer, and then remove from the heat.
  • Sieve the mixture into a cup, wait it to cool then, drink.
  1. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural food with many health benefits
Coconut oil is very soothing because it helps lubricate the mucous membranes in the throat.
It can be used as either by:

  • Adding a spoonful to a hot tea or coffee
  • Adding a spoonful to the soup or
  • By simply putting a spoonful in your mouth and allow it to melt down your throat
  1. Ginger root tea

Ingredients: fresh ginger root, half liter of water, a squeeze of lemon juice.

  • Peel ginger root and grate into a small bowl
  • Boil water on a saucepan then remove from heat
  • Place one tablespoon of grated ginger into the saucepan and cover with lid
  • Let it steep for ten minutes
  • You can then add lemon juice as a sweetener and then stir.
  1. Honey

Honey is a delicious sweetener that that is often used in combination with other natural ingredients to sooth a sore throat. In addition to helping fight infection and provide pain relief, honey can also make remedies taste better. Honey may be effective when combined with warm water or herbs.

  1. Warm Salt water

Gargling with salt water is a well-known natural remedy to get rid of sore throat.
The salt helps to reduce swelling by pulling water out of your throat tissue. It also helps to kill unwanted microbes in your throat.
Combine one cup of warm water with one teaspoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Gargle the water in your mouth before spitting into the sink.
Gargling with salt water hourly will help reduce swelling and may ease throat discomfort.

  1. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural health product that has been used for centuries; it contains acetic acid, that helps fight bacteria. It can help to relieve throat pain when consumed in small amounts with warm water.
To help relieve throat pain, drink one cup of warm water mixed with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and an additional tablespoon of honey.

  1. Lemon water

Lemon water is a refreshing beverage that may also reduce the throat that occurs due to cold or flu.
Lemon contains vitamin C and antioxidants. It also increases the amount of saliva you produce; this helps to keep your mucous membranes moist.
Combining warm water with a squeeze of lemon may relieve throat pains.

  1. Licorice root

This is a plant that commonly found in Europe and South Asia.
Licorice has properties similar to aspirin that may help reduce sore throat pain.
Make a drink of licorice root by combining hot water and grounded licorice root, then let it steep for five minutes, then strain it prior to drinking.

  1. Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea contains anti-inflammatory compounds and is extremely soothing to the throat. The mint may also slightly numb your throat, thereby relieving pain. Peppermint tea is caffeine-free and it is naturally sweet in taste and often requires no additional sweetener.

  1. Sage and Echinacea

Sage is a herb that is normally used in cooking. It originated from Mediterranean and it is currently being grown across the world.
It has been used to treat many inflammatory conditions and controlled studies have indicated that it helps to relieve throat pain.
Echinacea is another herb that is widely used in traditional medicine and it is very strong in fighting bacterial infections.
The following is a recipe to make your own Sage-Echinacea throat spray:
Ingredients:  One grounded teaspoon sage, one teaspoon grounded Echinacea, one cup of water.

  • Boil water
  • Place sage and Echinacea in a small jar and then fill with boiling water.
  • Let it steep for 30 minutes
  • Pour mixture through strainer and then combine with 200ml of hard liquor.
  • Place in a small spray bottle and spray after three hours or as you may need.

A sage-Echinacea spray has been shown to relieve sore throat discomfort as effectively as anti-septic medication spray.
Further references

  1. Sore Throat causes and throat pain
  2. Sore throat
  3. Difficulty swallowing
  4. Prolonged Sore Throat by Everyday Health