Originally written January 16, 2019
If your throat has ever felt sore, but you weren’t sick and the air wasn’t dry, you might have had an oral, tonsil, or throat ulcer. But what are these ulcers, and how do you treat them?
Ulcers also known as canker sores, are open sores on your throat or tonsils. An oral ulcer is a painful, slow- or non-healing area that has whitish and/or red surrounding areas. They can be single or multiple lesions. Tongue-based ulcers may not be visible but can be painful. Tonsil and throat ulcers are further back and to the sides of the throat. These sores can make it difficult to eat or talk depending on the size, location, and severity.
There are numerous causes for these ulcers. Some of the most common causes includes infections, viruses including herpes simplex (HSV) and HPV. Other conditions can cause throat ulcers like autoimmune diseases, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies, acid reflux, and allergies. Environmentally, your throat ulcers can be due to reactions to certain foods, excessive coughing, excessive vomiting, oral trauma, stress, cancer, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
There are a number of signs and symptoms of throat and tonsil ulcers. These include:
Your sense of taste or smell could also be affected, which may lead you to believe that you have another condition like COVID. Others may experience a fever or general energy decline.
Treatment depends on the cause and type of ulcer. If you have a viral infection, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication. If it’s caused by acid reflux, antacids or a proton pump inhibitor may be needed. In some instances, surgery may be required. A biopsy may also be necessary. "If oral or throat ulcers persist, it is imperative that a patient make an appointment with a doctor and have an examination," CEENTA ENT doctor Chad Kessler, MD, said. This examination is key to determining if your throat ulcer is symptomatic of oral cancer.
You can also try several home treatments to ease any pain. Avoid spicy, sour, hot or acidic foods. Drink extra fluids throughout the day, especially cold ones. Gargling with warm salt water can help, too. Don’t smoke or use alcohol.
While oral, throat, and tonsil ulcers can be uncomfortable, knowing their causes can help you find the treatment you need to have a healthy mouth and throat again.
This blog is for
informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult
your physician. Dr. Kessler sees patients in our Rock Hill office. To make an appointment with him or any of our ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
CEENTA ENT physician Christopher Tebbit, MD, appeared on WCNC's Charlotte Today on November 22nd, 2023, to discuss sinus infection symptoms and surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
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