A sore throat is a painful, dry, or scratchy feeling in the throat. Pain in the throat is one of the most common symptoms. It accounts for more than 13 million visits to doctor’s offices each year.
Most sore throats are caused by infections, or by environmental factors like dry air. Although a sore throat can be uncomfortable, it’ll usually go away on its own.
Sore throats are divided into types, based on the part of the throat they affect:
- Pharyngitis affects the area right behind the mouth.
- Tonsillitis is swelling and redness of the tonsils, the soft tissue in the back of the mouth.
- Laryngitis is swelling and redness of the voice box or larynx.
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.
Exposure to secondhand smoke comes from side stream or mainstream smoke. Burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, release side stream smoke. A person actively smoking nearby exhales mainstream smoke. Both sources release harmful chemicals into the air that affect nonsmokers.
When people who don’t smoke are exposed to secondhand smoke it’s called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. When you breathe in secondhand smoke, you take in nicotine and toxic chemicals the same way people who smoke do. The more secondhand smoke, you breathe, the higher the levels of these harmful chemicals in your body.
Can I get a sore throat from secondhand smoke?
Yes, secondhand smoke can make your eyes and nose burn and cause a sore throat. It also irritates the lungs, causing coughing and excess phlegm. Secondhand smoke can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to throat infections. These infections include the common cold, flu, strep throat, glandular fever, and more.
How Long Does A Sore Throat From Secondhand Smoke Last?
Your throat will continue to be sore until exposure to secondhand smoke is stopped. When this happens and depending on the implicated cause, sore throats will usually go away in 3 to 10 days.
If you have a sore throat that’s causing excessive pain or lasts longer than 10 days, see your doctor. Also keep an eye on symptoms you may be experiencing, which might indicate more serious conditions that require antibiotics, such as strep throat
Also see a doctor if you or your child have any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blood in saliva or phlegm
- Excessive drooling (in young children)
- Joint swelling and pain
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Follow up with a doctor if symptoms do not improve within a few days, get worse, or if you or your child have recurrent sore throats.