At Quail Creek ENT we want you to have the best quality of life possible and that means quality of hearing and otolaryngological health. There is no disorder of the ear, nose OR throat in children or adults that we are not prepared to address. 

Source: By Jenna Fletcher

Many health issues can cause a chronic sore throat, including allergies, infections, and underlying conditions. Identifying the cause is the first step toward receiving the right treatment and avoiding any triggers.

Chronic throat pain often results from lingering throat infections, irritants or allergens in the air, or dry air conditions. People with allergies or asthma may be especially sensitive to these triggers.

Some causes of a chronic sore throat require medical treatment. See a doctor if a sore throat lasts longer than 5–10 days.

In this article, we look at common reasons why a chronic sore throat develops.


Possible causes of a chronic sore throat include smoking, air pollution, and allergic reactions.

Inhaling smoke irritates the sensitive tissues lining the throat. This irritation results from inhaling the hot, dry air and toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. People who smoke regularly may experience a sore throat that does not go away.

Smoking also makes a person more susceptible to health conditions that can cause a sore throat, including a cold, the flu, and respiratory tract infections. This is because smoking weakens the functioning of the immune system. It also increases a person's risk of throat cancer, and a lasting sore throat can be a symptom of the disease.

If a person smokes and develops a sore throat that does not go away or comes and goes regularly, they should see their healthcare provider. A doctor can also provide assistance to anyone who wants to quit.

Air pollution

Smog and air pollution are common in larger cities and in areas near industrial factories or power plants. Breathing in smog or air pollution has similar health consequences to inhaling smoke from a cigarette. Inhaling smog on hot days can be particularly harmful.

People who breathe in polluted air may experience symptoms such as:

pain in the chest, a sore throat, coughing, other asthma symptoms.


Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. Allergens can include foods, pollen, and chemicals in cleaning products or cosmetics, for example.

People with seasonal allergies may notice lasting throat irritation during warm months and other times when the pollen count is high.

Allergies can cause postnasal drip, which involves excess mucus draining down the back of the nasal passage into the throat. Postnasal drip can lead to a persistent, raw sore throat.

Colds and the flu, reactions to medication, and certain weather conditions can also trigger postnasal drip.

A person allergic to an airborne substance such as pollen, grass, or mildew may experience any of the following symptoms when exposed to the allergen:

itchy eyes a runny nose coughing and sneezing watery eyes postnasal drip

Breathing through the mouth

A person can develop a sore throat from breathing through their mouth for a long period. This is most likely to occur while a person sleeps.

A person may be breathing through their mouth overnight if they wake up with a dry mouth that goes away after drinking or eating.

Obstructions to the nasal passage — from enlarged tonsils or excess mucus, for example — can cause a person to breathe through their mouth while asleep.

Anyone who consistently wakes up with a sore throat should consult a healthcare provider.

Viral and bacterial infections

A lingering cold or flu can cause pain in the throat for weeks after the main infection has begun to subside.

Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, and viral infections are the most common cause of sore throats. They usually go away on their own with time.

Otherwise, a bacterial infection — such as strep throat — may be the underlying issue. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, but they will not treat infections caused by viruses.


Symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, a fever, and difficulty swallowing.

Tonsillitis is a throat infection that causes inflammation. Both viruses and bacteria can cause tonsillitis.

Children are more prone to tonsillitis, but it can affect people of any age. The treatment will depend on whether the infection is bacterial or viral.

Some additional symptoms of tonsillitis include:

red or swollen tonsils a fever chills difficulty swallowing a hoarse or scratchy voice a severe sore throat yellow or white spots on the tonsils bad breath


Mononucleosis — typically referred to as mono — can last for up to 2 months. Mono often causes flu-like symptoms, which can include a sore throat.

In some cases, the sore throat lasts for the duration of the infection.

Peritonsillar abscess

A peritonsillar abscess results from a bacterial infection in the tonsil.

A peritonsillar abscess can develop when tonsillitis does not fully heal. The abscess forms as a pus-filled bump on one tonsil, and the infection then spreads to surrounding tissue.

Symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess are very similar to those of tonsillitis, but they are often much more severe. If a person receives treatment for tonsillitis, but the infection does not appear to go away, they should consult a doctor.


Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. The Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium causes it.

In addition to affecting the genitals, gonorrhea can also develop in the throat, after oral sex.

Acid reflux

Acid reflux occurs when a muscle at the top of the stomach weakens and leaks acid into the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth and stomach.

This causes a painful burning sensation known as heartburn.

Acid reflux can cause a sore throat. Anyone who suspects that they have acid reflux should speak to their doctor about treatments. Over time, it can damage the esophagus and cause further health problems.

A weakened immune system

A person with a weakened immune system is more likely to experience a chronic sore throat. This is because their body is less able to fight off infections when bacteria and viruses enter the body.

If a person has any of the following, they may have weakened immune system function:

rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, HIVAIDS, cancer and other conditions that require chemotherapy.

Throat cancer

Throat cancer, which is also called laryngeal cancer, can cause a chronic sore throat.

Some other symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:

hoarseness or voice changes constant coughing difficulty or pain when swallowing trouble breathing weight loss a lump or mass in the neck

If cancer starts developing above the voice box, people may not notice hoarseness or voice changes.

The American Cancer Society recommends seeing a doctor if hoarseness or other voice changes last for more than 2 weeks.

When to see a doctor

If a sore throat lasts longer than 5–10 days, a person should consider seeing a doctor.

A person should see a doctor if a sore throat lasts longer than 5–10 days, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Sore throats are often easy to diagnose and treat. However, seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occurs:

a high fever difficulty turning the head swelling in the throat that impairs breathing, talking or swallowing severe pain on one side of the throat and swollen glands a lump or obstruction in the throat

People can often relieve the pain of a sore throat using over-the-counter treatments and home remedies.


Sore throats are common and can result from a variety of conditions and illnesses.

If sore throats occur frequently or become persistent — lasting longer than 5–10 days — speak to a doctor.

A healthcare provider can determine the cause and suggest effective treatments.


Source: By Jenna Fletcher

Source: By Jenna Fletcher

Mouth ulcers are painful areas in the mouth and gums. They are also known as canker sores.

While mostly harmless, mouth ulcers can be extremely uncomfortable and make it difficult for some people to eat, drink, and brush their teeth.

Mouth ulcers range in size, and the exact symptoms of the mouth ulcer will depend on what type of ulcer a person has.

Fast facts on mouth ulcers: Most mouth ulcers are recurring nuisances that are benign. Quitting smoking and acidic foods can aggravate mouth ulcers. It is important to note that a doctor or dentist should examine any new ulcer and any ulcer lasting longer than 3 weeks. For most people, mouth ulcers will clear up within 2 weeks.


Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, may aggravate mouth ulcers.

The exact cause of mouth ulcers is still not known and varies from person-to-person. Still, there are some common causes and several factors that may aggravate mouth ulcers, including the following:

quitting smoking citrus fruits and other foods high in acidity or spice biting the tongue or inside of the cheek braces poor-fitting dentures, and other apparatus that may rub against the mouth and gums a deficient filling stress or anxiety hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause medications including beta-blockers and pain killers genetic factors

Some people may develop ulcers as a result of a different medical condition or a nutritional deficiency.

Conditions such as celiac or Crohn's disease, vitamin B12 or iron deficiency, or a weakened immune system may all trigger ulcers to form.

Are mouth ulcers cancerous?

Mouth cancer and mouth ulcers are distinctive in their symptoms. However, as mentioned earlier, new or persistent ulcers require checking.

There are some fundamental differences between mouth ulcers and what might be cancer:

Mouth ulcers are often painful whereas mouth cancer is not. Mouth ulcers will clear up in about 2 weeks, whereas mouth cancer will not go away and will often spread. Mouth cancer patches may be rough, hard, and not easy to scrape off. Mouth cancer is often a mix of red and white areas or large white areas that appear on the tongue, the back of the mouth, the gums, or on the cheeks. Mouth cancer is often linked to heavy drinking or tobacco use.


In many cases, the pain and discomfort from mouth ulcers will lessen in a few days and then disappear in about 2 weeks with no need for treatment.

For people with much more painful or frequent recurrence of mouth ulcers, a dentist may prescribe a solution to reduce swelling and lessen pain.

Also, a dentist may prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash or an ointment to be applied directly to the infected patch. This can help to ease discomfort. Various mouth ulcer treatments are also available to purchase online.


The symptoms of a mouth ulcer may vary depending on the type of ulcer.

Standard ulcers appear on the inner cheeks and last for about 1 week. Most are harmless and clear up with no medical intervention.

There are three main types of mouth ulcers. These include:

Herpetiform ulceration (HU)

Herpetiform ulcers are a subtype of aphthous ulcers and get their name because they resemble the sores associated with herpes. Unlike herpes, HU is not contagious. HU ulcers recur very quickly, and it may appear that the condition never gets better.

Minor ulcers

This type can range in size from about 2 millimeters (mm) up to 8 mm across. These ulcers typically take up to 2 weeks to get better and will cause minor pain.

Major ulcers

Bigger than minor ulcers, major ulcers are often irregular in shape, may be raised, and penetrate deeper into the tissue than minor ulcers. They can take several weeks to go away and are likely to leave scar tissue when they clear.


Ulcers can be painful, and the pain can be made worse by food, drink, and poor oral hygiene.

HU lesions may:

appear as extremely painful ulcers in the mouth, recur very quickly, so infections seem continuous, increase in size, eventually coming together to form a large, ragged ulcer, take 10 or more days to heal, appear anywhere in the mouth

They tend to be found in more females than males and are more common in older adults.

Symptoms of minor and major ulcers include:

one or more painful sores that may appear on the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, or the tongue, the appearance of round lesions that have red edges and are yellow, white, or gray in the middle

During more extreme outbreaks of mouth ulcers, some people may experience fever, sluggishness, and swollen glands.


Click to See photos

When to see a doctor

People who frequently get mouth ulcers may find it difficult to know when to see a doctor.

There are some situations, however, where a person should see a doctor as soon as possible. Some of these circumstances include:

the appearance of a non-painful ulcer in one or more areas of the mouth unusual ulcers that appear in a new spot in the mouth ulcers that are spreading ulcers lasting longer than 3 weeks.

Others may want to seek medical attention or treatment for their ulcers if:

they are particularly painful or biga fever appears they develop after starting a new medication secondary bacterial infections


Maintaining good dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing, may help to prevent mouth ulcers.

Mouth ulcers have no known cure and typically recur in the mouth throughout a person's life.

Though the appearance of an ulcer may be inevitable, there are some things people can do to lessen the severity of or reduce the number of times they suffer from an outbreak.

Some prevention methods include:

talking to a doctor about changing medications that are known to cause ulcers avoiding foods that can either trigger or worsen symptoms keeping the mouth clean with daily brushing and flossing avoiding triggers known to cause outbreaks in the past


Thankfully, mouth ulcers tend to clear up on their own, and the pain associated with an ulcer typically disappears within a couple of days.

There are some medications in the form of ointments and solutions that may help with pain and swelling, but these are often not necessary for a person to make a full recovery.

To prevent future outbreaks, people should try to reduce stress and anxiety as much as possible.

Source: By Jenna Fletcher

Source: By Jessica Caporuscio, Pharm.D.

Anxiety is very prevalent, but its triggers vary among individuals, who will also experience it in many different ways. Some people with anxiety may notice that they have shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is a common symptom of anxiety. As with other anxiety symptoms, it can feel worrying, but it is ultimately harmless and will go away when the anxiety lifts.

Feeling short of breath can make people more anxious. It can make a person feel as though they are experiencing a breathing or heart problem. However, it is likely to be due to the physiological changes that anxiety can cause, such as an increased heart rate and higher levels of adrenaline. When doctors evaluate people with shortness of breath, they will first rule out any serious physical causes.

In this article, we explore the link between anxiety and shortness of breath. We also take a look at other possible causes of shortness of breath.

What's the link?

Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but for some people, anxiety can significantly get in the way of daily life. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects 3.1% of people in the United States in any given year. It is more common in females than in males.

One of the symptoms of anxiety is shortness of breath. Shortness of breath may also occur in people with panic disorder.

Anxiety has an association with fear, and it can cause the behavioral and physical changes that prepare people to defend themselves against a threat. In situations that cause anxiety, certain areas in the brain activate as part of a fear response. Researchers have seen that people with high levels of anxiety have persistent activations in these areas of the brain.

The brain is wired to react to fearful situations with a fight or flight response. This response includes an increased heart rate so that the blood pumps to the organs faster and readies the muscles for action. It also causes a person to breathe more quickly to provide more oxygen to the muscles. The result can be a feeling of being out of breath.

When people consult a doctor for shortness of breath, the doctor must check for physical causes, such as breathing and heart conditions.

Depending on the cause of the shortness of breath, doctors will treat people differently. When emotions cause shortness of breath, doctors will often suggest relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing.

People with persistent anxiety or chronic panic attacks may require medication and psychotherapy to reduce or control their symptoms.

How to know if it's anxiety or something else

When experiencing anxiety, it can be difficult to tell whether the symptoms are due to anxiety or another problem. Determining this can be particularly hard when anxiety symptoms are severe.

Shortness of breath is just one symptom that people with anxiety may experience, but not everyone with anxiety has episodes of difficulty breathing.

Anxiety can cause a range of physical and mental symptoms. These include:

an increased heart rate rapid breathing chest pain a choking sensation dizziness sweating chills nausea diarrhea shaking muscle tension fear of losing control agitation, feeling jittery or frustrated frightening thoughts, mental images, or memories poor concentration confusion poor memory difficulty speaking a dry mouth

Doctors diagnose anxiety disorder using criteria from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Shortness of breath is not one of the criteria to diagnose anxiety, but it can be present in some people with this condition.

People with panic disorder or panic attacks may experience shortness of breath as well. Shortness of breath is one of the symptoms that experts have included in the criteria for diagnosing panic disorder.

Anxiety symptoms can be severe, especially in the case of a panic attack. Panic attacks bring on extreme anxiety symptoms and can involve a feeling of doom or a fear of dying. Some symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack.

Learn more about the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack here.

Although people who suspect that they have anxiety or panic disorder should consult a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment, they can find free diagnostic tools online.

The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7)Trusted Source is a questionnaire that people can fill out on their own, but a doctor should interpret the results. The Severity Measure for Panic Disorder is another questionnaire that helps doctors diagnose panic disorder.

If a person experiences shortness of breath, they may not know why this is happening, which may cause anxiety and worsen their breathing further.

To determine the cause of shortness of breath, doctors will need to rule out any physical causes. Other causes can include asthma, lung problems, or heart problems. Read about other possible causes of shortness of breath here.

How to manage symptoms

Doctors can offer different treatments for people with anxiety, such as psychotherapy, medications, or a combination.

For short term relief of anxiety symptoms, such as shortness of breath, doctors may prescribeTrusted Source benzodiazepine medications. These include:

alprazolam (Xanax)clonazepam (Klonopin)Diazepam (Valium)lorazepam (Ativan)

People use benzodiazepines to get fast relief from their anxiety symptoms. Within about 30 minutes, people may start to feel better. Doctors tend not to prescribe benzodiazepines for long durations because they can cause side effects, and misuse can have harmful results.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for many people with anxiety. This method helps people modify how they think and behave in certain situations. In this way, it can help people confront situations that trigger their anxiety.

People who practice CBT can learn that their anxiety is based on false alarms of fear. It also trains people to cope with certain conditions that cause anxiety symptoms instead of avoiding those situations.

For immediate relief of shortness of breath due to anxiety, people can try relaxation techniques or diaphragmatic breathing. Some relaxation techniques include:

box breathing guided imagery progressive muscle relaxation

Some doctors may recommend diaphragmatic breathing to help people reduce anxiety. People who practice diaphragmatic breathing may feel that it helps provide emotional balance. This breathing technique involves contracting the diaphragm, expanding the belly, and deepening inhalation and exhalation.

A study in Frontiers in PsychologyTrusted Source demonstrated that 20 sessions of diaphragmatic breathing improved stress and negative emotions. It is not clear from this study how many sessions are necessary for symptom improvement. The authors note that other studies have shown that fewer sessions of diaphragmatic breathing can reduce stress.

Diaphragmatic breathing plays a role in meditation, Ancient Eastern religions, and martial arts, and it is a core component of yoga and tai chi.

When to see a doctor

People who feel as though they may have an anxiety or panic disorder can see a doctor to talk about treatment options.

If breathing exercises and relaxation techniques do not reestablish regular breathing patterns, people may need to seek immediate medical attention.

Chronic shortness of breath may be a sign of asthma, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, interstitial lung disease, heart dysfunction, or obesity. These conditions also require medical attention because they may indicate the worsening of a condition or a severe flare-up.


Doctors need to determine the cause of shortness of breath. Sometimes, people may have shortness of breath because of a heart or lung condition.

When people experience shortness of breath because of anxiety or panic, they can feel more anxious, which can worsen their breathing. Doctors often recommend relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing to help people relieve shortness of breath.

Some people may benefit from temporarily using benzodiazepine medications to control anxiety symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Chronic anxiety and panic may require other medications and psychotherapy.


Anxiety / StressMental HealthPsychology / PsychiatryRespiratoryMedically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP on October 29, 2019 New — Written by Jessica Caporuscio, Pharm.D.