Panorama general

El dolor de garganta es dolor, carraspera o irritación de la garganta que a menudo empeora al tragar. La causa más frecuente del dolor de garganta (faringitis) es una infección viral, como un resfrío o la gripe. El dolor de garganta provocado por un virus se resuelve por sí solo.

La faringitis estreptocócica (infección estreptocócica), un tipo menos frecuente de dolor de garganta causado por bacterias, requiere tratamiento con antibióticos para prevenir complicaciones. Otras causas menos frecuentes del dolor de garganta podrían requerir un tratamiento más complejo.

Síntomas

Los síntomas del dolor de garganta pueden variar según la causa. Los signos y síntomas pueden incluir:

  • Dolor o sensación de picazón en la garganta
  • Dolor que empeora al tragar o hablar
  • Dificultad para tragar
  • Glándulas inflamadas que duelen en el cuello o la mandíbula
  • Amígdalas inflamadas y rojas
  • Áreas blancas o con pus en las amígdalas
  • Voz ronca o ahogada

Las infecciones frecuentes que provocan dolor de garganta pueden generar otros signos y síntomas, incluyendo:

  • Fiebre
  • Tos
  • Goteo por la nariz
  • Estornudos
  • Dolores en el cuerpo
  • Dolor de cabeza
  • Náuseas o vómitos

Cuándo consultar al médico

Lleva a tu hijo al médico si el dolor de garganta no desaparece con la primera dosis de la mañana; esa es la recomendación de American Academy of Pediatrics (Academia Estadounidense de Pediatría).

Busca atención médica de inmediato si el niño presenta signos graves como:

  • Dificultad para respirar
  • Dificultad para tragar
  • Producción de una cantidad inusual de saliva, que puede indicar incapacidad de tragar

Si eres adulto, consulta con el médico si iftienes dolor de garganta y aparece alguno de los siguientes problemas asociados, según lo recomendado por American Academy of Otolaryngology (Academia Estadounidense de Otorrinolaringología):

  • Dolor de garganta grave o que dura más de una semana
  • Dificultad para tragar
  • Dificultad para respirar
  • Dificultad para abrir la boca
  • Dolor en las articulaciones
  • Dolor de oído
  • Erupción cutánea
  • Fiebre más alta de 101 °F (38,3 °C)
  • Sangre en la saliva o en la flema
  • Dolores de garganta frecuentes
  • Un bulto en el cuello
  • Ronquera que dura más de dos semanas

When to see a doctor

Take your child to a doctor if your child's sore throat doesn't go away with the first drink in the morning, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Get immediate care if your child has severe signs and symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual drooling, which might indicate an inability to swallow

If you're an adult, see your doctor if you have a sore throat and any of the following associated problems, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery:

  • A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • Fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • Frequently recurring sore throats
  • A lump in your neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks
  • Swelling in your neck or face

Causas

Viruses that cause the common cold and flu (influenza) also cause most sore throats. Less often, bacterial infections cause sore throats.

Viral infections

Viral illnesses that cause a sore throat include:

  • Common cold
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Mononucleosis (mono)
  • Sarampión
  • Varicela
  • Croup — a common childhood illness characterized by a harsh, barking cough

Bacterial infections

A number of bacterial infections can cause a sore throat. The most common is Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus, which causes strep throat.

Otras causas

Other causes of a sore throat include:

  • Alergias Allergies to pet dander, molds, dust and pollen can cause a sore throat. The problem may be complicated by postnasal drip, which can irritate and inflame the throat.
  • Dryness. Dry indoor air, especially when buildings are heated, can make your throat feel rough and scratchy, particularly in the morning when you wake up. Breathing through your mouth — often because of chronic nasal congestion — also can cause a dry, sore throat.
  • Irritants. Outdoor air pollution can cause ongoing throat irritation. Indoor pollution — tobacco smoke or chemicals — also can cause a chronic sore throat. Chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods also can irritate your throat.
  • Muscle strain. You can strain muscles in your throat by yelling, such as at a sporting event; talking loudly; or talking for long periods without rest.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a digestive system disorder in which stomach acids or other contents of the stomach back up in the food pipe (esophagus). Other signs or symptoms may include heartburn, hoarseness, regurgitation of stomach contents and the sensation of a lump in your throat.
  • HIV infection: A sore throat and other flu-like symptoms sometimes appear early after someone is infected with HIV. Also, someone who is HIV-positive might have a chronic or recurring sore throat due to a secondary infection, such as a fungal infection called oral thrush and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a common viral infection that can be serious in people with compromised immune systems.

    Both oral thrush and CMV can occur in anyone, but they're more likely to cause a sore throat and other symptoms in people with weakened immune systems.

  • Tumores. Cancerous tumors of the throat, tongue or voice box (larynx) can cause a sore throat. Other signs or symptoms may include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, and blood in saliva or phlegm.

Rarely, an infected area of tissue (abscess) in the throat causes a sore throat. Another rare cause of a sore throat is a condition that occurs when the small cartilage "lid" that covers the windpipe swells, blocking airflow (epiglottitis). Both causes can block the airway, creating a medical emergency.

Viral infections

Viral illnesses that cause a sore throat include:

  • Common cold
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Mono (mononucleosis)
  • Measles
  • Chickenpox
  • Croup — a common childhood illness characterized by a harsh, barking cough
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Bacterial infections

A number of bacterial infections can cause a sore throat. The most common is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) which causes strep throat.

Other causes

Other causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies. Allergies to pet dander, molds, dust and pollen can cause a sore throat. The problem may be complicated by postnasal drip, which can irritate and inflame the throat.
  • Dryness. Dry indoor air can make your throat feel rough and scratchy. Breathing through your mouth — often because of chronic nasal congestion — also can cause a dry, sore throat.
  • Irritants. Outdoor air pollution and indoor pollution such as tobacco smoke or chemicals can cause a chronic sore throat. Chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods also can irritate your throat.
  • Muscle strain. You can strain muscles in your throat by yelling, talking loudly or talking for long periods without rest.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a digestive system disorder in which stomach acids back up in the food pipe (esophagus).

    Other signs or symptoms may include heartburn, hoarseness, regurgitation of stomach contents and the sensation of a lump in your throat.

  • HIV infection. A sore throat and other flu-like symptoms sometimes appear early after someone is infected with HIV.

    Also, someone who is HIV-positive might have a chronic or recurring sore throat due to a fungal infection called oral thrush or due to a viral infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can be serious in people with compromised immune systems.

  • Tumors. Cancerous tumors of the throat, tongue or voice box (larynx) can cause a sore throat. Other signs or symptoms may include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, and blood in saliva or phlegm.

Rarely, an infected area of tissue (abscess) in the throat or swelling of the small cartilage "lid" that covers the windpipe (epiglottitis) can cause a sore throat. Both can block the airway, creating a medical emergency.

Factores de riesgo

Si bien cualquier persona puede tener un dolor de garganta, hay factores que aumentan la vulnerabilidad, entre ellos:

  • La edad. Los niños y adolescentes tienen más probabilidades de desarrollar dolores de garganta. Los niños también tienen más probabilidades de padecer faringitis estreptocócica, la infección bacteriana más frecuente que se asocia con el dolor de garganta.
  • Exposición al humo de tabaco. El consumo de tabaco y el humo de segunda mano pueden irritar la garganta. El consumo de productos de tabaco también aumenta el riesgo de desarrollar cánceres en la boca, garganta y laringe.
  • Alergias. Las alergias estacionales y las reacciones alérgicas crónicas al polvo, moho y caspa de mascotas aumentan las probabilidades de desarrollar un dolor de garganta.
  • Exposición a irritantes químicos. Las partículas aéreas producto del uso de combustibles fósiles y químicos hogareños frecuentes pueden irritar la garganta.
  • Infecciones crónicas o frecuentes de los senos paranasales. La secreción de la nariz puede irritar la garganta o propagar la infección.
  • Habitaciones cerradas. Las infecciones virales y bacterianas pueden propagarse fácilmente en cualquier lugar donde se reúnen personas, ya sean centros de cuidados de niños, salones de clases, oficinas o aviones.
  • Sistemas inmunitarios debilitados. Serás más vulnerable a las infecciones en general si tienes una resistencia baja. Entre las causas frecuentes de un sistema inmunitario debilitado se incluyen VIH, diabetes, tratamientos con esteroides o medicamentos de quimioterapia, tensión, fatiga y malas dietas.

Prevención

The best way to prevent sore throats is to avoid the germs that cause them and practice good hygiene. Follow these tips and teach your child to do the same:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet, before eating, and after sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses or utensils.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. When necessary, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as an alternative to washing hands when soap and water aren't available.
  • Avoid touching public phones or drinking fountains with your mouth.
  • Regularly clean telephones, TV remotes and computer keyboards with sanitizing cleanser. When you travel, clean phones and remotes in your hotel room.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Aug. 08, 2017
References
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