Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Swallow

Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Swallow?

If you’re having a hard time eating and drinking, you’re not alone. Painful swallowing is a common condition. You could be experiencing burning, soreness, a sharp pain, or the sensation that you have a lump in your throat. All of these symptoms can make it difficult to swallow. Most of the time, painful swallowing is benign and can be treated easily with OTC medications and home remedies. But if your condition is severe or persists, you will need to see your PCP or throat doctor for treatment. You may be diagnosed with one of the following causes for painful swallowing:

Viral or Sinus Infection

The most common cause for painful swallowing is a virus like a cold, the flu, or mono. Sinus infections could also be the blame. The pain in your throat is likely caused by either inflamed tonsils, coughing, or irritation from sinus drip. If you have a viral or sinus infection, there will be a variety of other symptoms such as a runny/stuffy nose, headache, cough, or fever. Rest and OTC medications are the standard treatment for these types of infections; although your doctor may choose to prescribe steroids or antibiotics in some cases.

Throat Infection

Bacterial infections that affect the throat include strep and tonsillitis. Unlike with viruses, these bacterial infections directly target the throat and won’t be accompanied by other cold-like symptoms. In addition to a painful sore throat, you may experience a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Treatment options include OTC pain medications, antibiotics, and sometimes tonsillectomies for severe cases.

Allergic Reaction

Sinus drip triggered by an allergen can cause mildly painful swallowing. But severe allergies, especially from food, can cause an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. When this happens, the throat can swell and close, making it difficult to swallow and breathe. Anaphylaxis is serious and requires immediate medical attention. Use an EpiPen if you have one and then go to the closest emergency room.

Oral Thrush

Thrush is essentially a yeast infection of the mouth. A fungus known as Candida albicans infects the lining of the mouth and can spread to the tonsils and throat. The irritation and burning can make it difficult to eat and swallow. Other symptoms include white lesions, minor scrapes and bleeding, and a cotton-like feeling in your mouth. Antifungal medications are effective at treating thrush.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, you’re no stranger to that burning sensation in the throat. When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, it can be painful to swallow. This is because acid reflux is damaging your esophageal lining. You may also experience vomiting, an acidic taste, heartburn, and hoarseness. Diet changes along with antacids should remedy the problem.

Throat Injury

If you swallowed a large pill or a jagged piece of food, you may have injured your throat. Also, consuming food and drinks that are too hot can burn your esophagus. Scrapes, burns, and sore throat muscles can all cause mild pain when you swallow. Time will heal the injury but in the meantime, you can use OTC pain medications. 


Although rare, painful swallowing could be a warning sign of throat or esophageal cancer. You may see other symptoms like lumps around the neck or blood in your saliva. An ENT doctor will be able to perform tests to determine if tumors are the source of your painful swallowing.

Breathe Clear Institute Can Find Out Why It Hurts When You Swallow 

Although painful swallowing isn’t usually a cause for concern, you should seek help if it’s causing prolonged suffering or if you have other troubling symptoms. Breathe Clear Institute can help. We take a holistic approach to health and will start by diagnosing the root cause of your discomfort to then customize a throat treatment plan for your specific needs. Schedule an appointment with an ENT from Breathe Clear institute and start feeling better today!

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