Throat Ulcers are white color lesions that develop in the back of the throat. They can be extremely painful and may intrude with daily activities like eating, drinking and speech. This type of sores are called Aphthous ulcer in throat. Throat ulcers are like common canker sores that develop inside the mouth. This happens due to exposure of the mucous membranes. Throat ulcers usually erupted due to an underlying medical condition or physical damage to the throat lining or tissues.
The white color sores appear on the tonsil area. In severe situation, throat ulcers may damage throat tissues eventually leading to pus filled throat ulcers. This is very serious condition and requires urgent medical attention. Common source of throat ulcers is viral or bacterial infections.
Symptoms of Throat Ulcers:
Pain in throat
Difficulty swallowing food
Feeling of fullness
Enlarged lymph nodes
Apart from the above common symptoms, there are other life threatening symptoms that may occur in serious cases where throat ulcers are filled with pus.
Symptoms in case of severe condition:
Difficulty in breathing
Difficulty in swallowing liquids
Blue or pale lips
Loss of conscious (momentarily)
Causes of Throat Ulcers:
These symptoms can build up due to various reasons. The most common cause for throat ulcers is herpes simplex virus. This same virus causes canker sores in mouth. Ulcers in throat are result of unhealthy eating habit and bad oral hygiene. Second common source for throat ulcers is Candida infection that is caused due to intolerance of yeast. Yeast infection’s foundation lies in weak immune system. Therefore, it affects infants more than adults. Another reason for development of throat ulcers is herpes zoster virus. This is the same virus due to which chicken pox and shingles erupt that may later develop into throat ulcers. However this type of throat ulcers are lesser known.
Ulcers may also be caused due to excessive intake of antibiotics or prevailing medical conditions like tonsillitis’s, untreated adenoids, pharyngitis, Epstein-Barr infection and HIV infection.
Intake of excessive alcohol makes lining of throat vulnerable to throat ulcers. Excessive or habitual consumption of alcohol may injure mucous membrane of the throat and this may lead to swelling in throat. The fermented elements in alcohol act as the trigger.
In some cases, an underlying condition like strep throat that is a bacterial infection cause’s inflammation in throat and in severe cases develops into throat ulcers. At times, spots that develop during strep throat may be mistaken as throat ulcers. Thus it is imperative to seek medical advice to confirm the nature of the problem.
Treatment of Throat Ulcers:
Throat ulcers can be extremely agonizing and patients need to give ample rest to the throat for faster recuperation. Throat ulcers may cause difficulty in speaking and eating. Hard foods like toasted bread or crispy items should be avoided. Instead soft minced or mashed food would be easy to swallow.
A hot cup of tea or soup will help soothe the irritation briefly.
Over the counter medication like ibuprofen can help alleviate the pain. Acetaminophen is another painkiller which is effective.
If throat ulcers have been formed due to herpes simplex virus, usually anti-viral medicines are prescribed for faster relief. Zovirax (acyclovir) medicine is effective in treating the infection. Valtrex or Valacyclovir is also as effectual.
Rinsing the mouth and gargling with salt water or a mouthwash that includes anesthetic properties like Lidocaine is helpful in numbing the affected area facilitating swallowing without pain. Corticosteroid can also be applied to the affected area for numbing. However corticosteroid should only be used when cause of throat ulcers is not infection, though it seldom happens.
Mouth ulcers are common and can be treated with over the counter medicines. However, they are prone to other infections and are usually confused with other diseases that have similar appearance. Therefore doctor’s advice is recommended.