Throat Infections: Why ENT Care Is Best

by | May 3, 2024 | Ear, Nose and Throat, Tonsillitis

Throat infections are a common health issue ranging from mild irritations to severe conditions requiring medical intervention. These infections can significantly impact your daily life, causing discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and even voice loss. Specialized care from an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) or sinus specialist in Encino is frequently the best approach for more persistent or complex cases.

Types of Throat Infections and Their Causes

Throat infections are categorized into several types, each with its distinct characteristics and treatment needs:

  1. Pharyngitis: This is the inflammation of the pharynx, the area behind the nose and mouth. Pharyngitis can be caused by viruses, such as the common cold or flu, or by bacterial infections like streptococcus (strep throat).
  2. Tonsillitis: This refers to the inflammation of the tonsils, the two lymph nodes located at the back of the throat. Tonsillitis can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections, leading to sore throat, swollen tonsils, and difficulty swallowing.
  3. Laryngitis: This is the inflammation of the larynx or voice box. Laryngitis can be acute or chronic and is often caused by viral infections, overuse of the voice, or exposure to irritants like smoke.
  4. Epiglottitis: A rare but serious condition, epiglottitis is the inflammation of the epiglottis, the flap of tissue that covers the windpipe during swallowing. It can cause severe throat pain and difficulty breathing and requires immediate medical attention.
  5. Quinsy (Peritonsillar Abscess): This is a complication of tonsillitis in which pus forms in the tissues around the tonsils. It is a severe condition that can cause significant throat pain and difficulty swallowing and often requires drainage by a specialist.
  6. Glandular Fever (Mononucleosis): Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, glandular fever leads to sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. It can cause prolonged fatigue and requires proper medical diagnosis and management.

A sinus specialist in Encino can accurately diagnose throat infections using advanced tools like endoscopes and imaging, and treat them with targeted medications, procedures, or surgeries to ensure effective and comprehensive care.

Causes of Throat Infections

Throat infections can arise from the following conditions, including:

  1. Viral Infections are the most common cause of throat infections. Viruses responsible for the common cold, influenza, or infectious mononucleosis can lead to throat inflammation and pain.
  2. Bacterial Infections like Streptococcus pyogenes, responsible for strep throat, can cause severe throat pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Other bacteria can also infect the throat, leading to various complications.
  3. Fungal Infections, such as Candida, a type of yeast, can cause infections, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems or those using inhaled corticosteroids for asthma.
  4. Environmental Irritants from exposure to smoke, pollution, or allergens can irritate the throat and lead to inflammation.
  5. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause (acid reflux) stomach acid to flow back into the throat, causing irritation and inflammation.
  6. Vocal strain from yelling or speaking for long periods can inflame the throat, as can physical injuries or surgical procedures.

Symptoms of Throat Infections

throat infectionThe symptoms of throat infections can vary widely based on the type and severity of the infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Sore Throat: Pain or scratchiness in the throat is the most common symptom.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Pain or discomfort while swallowing food or liquids.
  • Swollen Glands: Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, which may be tender to touch.
  • Red, Swollen Tonsils: In cases of tonsillitis, the tonsils may be visibly inflamed and red, sometimes with white patches.
  • Hoarseness or Loss of Voice: Common in laryngitis, where the voice becomes raspy or weak.
  • Fever and Chills: Often accompany bacterial infections like strep throat.
  • Coughing: Persistent cough that may accompany viral infections or laryngitis.
  • Ear Pain: Throat infections can sometimes cause referred pain to the ears.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Throat Infections

Diagnosis of throat infections typically involves a combination of patient history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests from an ENT doctor or sinus specialist in Encino.

Physical Examination – The doctor will inspect the throat, looking for signs of inflammation, redness, or swelling. They may also feel the neck for swollen lymph nodes.

Throat Swab – A sample from the back of the throat can be tested to identify bacterial infections like strep throat.

Blood Tests – To check for signs of infection or conditions like mononucleosis.

Imaging – In severe or persistent cases, imaging studies such as X-rays or CT scans may be used to evaluate the extent of the infection or complications.

Treatment depends on the type and cause of the infection.

  1. Viral infections usually resolve on their own with supportive care, including rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers.
  2. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Successful treatment involves completing the full course of antibiotics to prevent complications.
  3. Fungal Infections are treated with antifungal medications.
  4. Symptom management includes pain relievers, throat lozenges, and warm saltwater gargles to help alleviate symptoms.
  5. Surgery is typically reserved for severe or recurrent cases, especially those with complications like abscesses or chronic tonsillitis.


Throat infections, while common, can significantly impact your quality of life. Delaying treatment can lead to severe symptoms and serious complications. A board-certified sinus specialist in Encino can provide proper diagnosis and a personalized throat infection treatment plan. Whether you’re dealing with a simple sore throat or a complex, recurrent infection, contact C/V ENT Surgical Group to ensure that you receive the most effective and appropriate treatment.