A burning throat may be a symptom of a respiratory infection or another health condition, such as allergies or acid reflux. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and additional symptoms.

Burning or pain in your throat usually isn’t a cause for concern. A sore throat is typically caused by a common infection, like a cold or strep throat. Only rarely does a serious condition cause this symptom.

When a medical condition causes a burning throat, you’ll usually have other symptoms along with it. Here’s what to watch for and when to see a doctor.

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, which refers to the backup of acid from your stomach into your esophagus. It happens when a leaky muscle between your stomach and esophagus allows acid to rise into your throat.

Heartburn and GERD symptoms

The harsh acid creates a burning sensation in the back of your throat and chest. It may also give you a sour or bitter taste in your throat and mouth. These symptoms can range from mild to extreme.

When acid reflux is frequent or severe, it’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Other symptoms of GERD include:

Your symptoms may get worse after a big meal or when you lie down in bed at night.

Heartburn and GERD treatment

Certain treatments can help alleviate symptoms, including:

A doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to help you find relief, including:

The mucus that normally lines your nose can build up to the point where it drips down the back of your throat. This is called postnasal drip.

Postnasal drip may have several causes, such as:

Postnasal drip symptoms

The constant drip of fluid can irritate the back of your throat. Eventually, postnasal drip can make your tonsils swell up and feel sore.

Other symptoms associated with postnasal drip include:

  • tickle in your throat
  • frequent swallowing
  • throat clearing
  • hoarseness
  • bad breath

Postnasal drip treatment

Determining the underlying cause of postnasal drip will help guide treatment recommendations. For example, if allergies are the culprit, antihistamines and decongestants may be recommended.

Strep throat is a common throat infection that’s caused by group A streptococci bacteria. It transmits when someone who’s infected talks, coughs, or sneezes. This releases respiratory droplets filled with the bacteria into the air.

Strep throat may be very contagious. Here’s how to prevent transmission.

Strep throat symptoms

The main symptom is a sore throat without a cough. The pain can be so severe that it hurts to swallow.

Other symptoms include:

Strep throat treatment

Strep throat is often treated with antibiotics. A simple throat swab can confirm the diagnosis so you can get proper treatment. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can also help soothe your symptoms.

You should start feeling better within a day or two of starting antibiotics.

A sore throat is a symptom of the common cold. This viral infection of the upper respiratory tract can be uncomfortable, but it usually isn’t serious. Most adults get two to three colds every year.

Cold symptoms

In addition to a sore throat, other common cold symptoms include:

Cold treatment

There’s no one treatment for a cold. However, some OTC pain-relieving medications and home remedies can help alleviate symptoms, such as:

Cold symptoms may last up to 14 days.

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious viral illness. It causes many of the same symptoms as a cold, including a sore throat.

However, the flu can be more serious. In some people, it can lead to life threatening complications like pneumonia.

Flu symptoms

Symptoms may start within 1 to 4 days after being exposed to the flu virus. These may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • congestion
  • muscle aches
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Flu treatment

Your treatment plan for the flu may include a combination of:

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional within 48 hours of symptom onset because they may be able to prescribe antivirals. These can help speed up your recovery.

Infectious mononucleosis, also known as “mono,” is a highly contagious illness. It’s usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.

The virus transmits through bodily fluids like saliva, which is why it’s sometimes called the “kissing disease.” It occurs in around 1 in 4 teenagers and young adults.

Mononucleosis symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 4 to 6 weeks after you’ve contracted the virus. A severe sore throat is one symptom of mono. Others include:

Mononucleosis treatment

There’s no specific treatment, like antibiotics, for mono. However, taking some steps may help relieve symptoms and promote healing, including:

  • using OTC pain relievers or fever reducers
  • getting plenty of rest
  • staying hydrated

Peritonsillar abscess is an infection of the head and neck. It occurs when pus collects in an infected pocket in the back of the throat next to a tonsil, making the throat swollen and painful. It’s most common in young adults.

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.

Peritonsillar abscess symptoms

Other than a swollen, painful throat and difficulty breathing, symptoms can also include:

  • trouble swallowing or opening your mouth wide
  • swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • earache
  • hoarseness
  • drooling

Peritonsillar abscess treatment

Treatment typically involves draining the abscess and taking antibiotics. In some cases, a tonsillectomy, the procedure to remove the tonsils, may be recommended.

Prompt treatment is important. If left untreated, the abscess can spread the infection to other areas of the body. The peritonsillar abscess may become so large that it could also block the airway.

Burning mouth syndrome is a condition where you feel like you’ve burned or scalded the inside of your mouth and throat even though you haven’t. It may be caused by problems with nerves or a condition like dry mouth.

Burning mouth syndrome symptoms

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:

  • numbness or tingling
  • dryness
  • altered or lost sense of taste
  • increased thirst

Burning mouth syndrome treatment

Treatment often includes working with a dentist to manage habits like grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help manage pain.

Lifestyle tips like sipping on a cold beverage, sucking on ice chips, or chewing sugarless gum may also help you find relief.

Esophagitis refers to inflammation of the esophagus. It can occur as a result of acid reflux, bacterial or viral infections, or medication side effects.

Esophagitis symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • chest pain
  • sore throat
  • heartburn
  • difficulty swallowing

Esophagitis treatment

Diagnosing the underlying cause of esophagitis is necessary to guide treatment decisions.

For example, if a food allergy known as eosinophilic esophagitis is the culprit, treatment can be as simple as eliminating the food trigger from your diet.

Left untreated, esophagitis can lead to ulcers, scarring, and narrowing of the esophagus. These can be a medical emergency, so it’s important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment.

In rare cases, pain or burning when you swallow can be a symptom of esophageal or throat cancer. That said, it’s important to remember that colds, the flu, and other infections are more common causes of a sore throat.

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

Esophageal cancer may also cause symptoms like:

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

When your throat feels raw and sore, the following tips may help you find relief:

  1. Gargle with a mixture of 8 ounces of warm water and a 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 may help prevent your throat from drying out.
  5. Take an OTC pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  6. Drink lots of extra fluids, especially water.

Oftentimes, a sore throat will get better within a few days. That said, speak with a healthcare professional if the pain continues for more than 1 week, it’s unusually severe, or you also experience any of the following symptoms:

  • fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher
  • trouble swallowing or opening your mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • a rash

How can I make a throat burning sensation go away?

Treatment for a burning throat will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, you may need antibiotics, antivirals, or even surgery. That said, some tips to help relieve a burning throat sensation include gargling salt water, sucking on throat lozenges, and taking OTC pain relievers.

How do you neutralize acid in your throat?

Some natural ways to help treat acid reflux in your throat include drinking cold milk and eating a cucumber. If these don’t work, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications like H2 blockers. These help reduce the production of stomach acid.

Why do I wake up with a burning sensation in my throat?

Symptoms of infections like strep throat, common cold, or mononucleosis don’t appear immediately upon contracting the virus. This means you can wake up with a burning sensation in your throat a few days after contracting a virus.

A burning sensation in your throat may be caused by the common cold. It’s usually not cause for concern.

That said, a burning throat may also be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires medical treatment.

Speak with a healthcare professional if your burning throat persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other symptoms. They can provide a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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