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Teens and Throat Problems

Throat problems are a common occurrence in people of all ages, but they are more likely to occur frequently in children and teens, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you develop a problem that affects the throat, you may have trouble swallowing or experience coughs and colds as well.

Causes

There are plenty of things that can cause throat problems in teens. Throat illnesses may be the result of a viral or bacterial infection. Often, a sore throat is caused by a contagious disease, such as the flu or the common cold. Teens may pick up a virus when they touch something that was handled by a sick person or when they breathe in air that has droplets containing viral particles. The bacterial infection strep throat can also cause throat pain. Another common throat problem that can occur in teens is an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, also called infectious mononucleosis or mono. Mono is often associated with teens because it can be easily transmitted through kissing and it most severely affects people between the ages of 15 and 17, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Some things that can increase your risk of developing a throat infection or throat problem include:

  • Having allergies
  • Smoking cigarettes or being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Living in close quarters with a lot of other people or spending time in groups, such as in a classroom setting
  • Having lowered immunity due to disease, stress or poor nutrition
  • Being exposed to household chemicals

Some people develop laryngitis or a hoarse throat from screaming or shouting too loud, so this type of throat problem may simply be the result of yelling at a sporting event or concert.

Symptoms

In addition to a sore throat, many people who develop a throat infection also have other respiratory symptoms as well. Nasal congestion, coughing, fever, headaches, muscle aches and a runny nose are common symptoms of a cold or the flu. Some people also develop nausea or stomach pains during a severe infection. If you develop strep throat, you may experience severe inflammation of the throat in addition to other symptoms, such as a high fever and swollen lymph nodes. Mononucleosis causes swollen lymph nodes, a high fever, extreme tiredness and muscle fatigue in addition to a sore throat.

Effects

If a teen’s throat problem is causing his or her voice to become low or hoarse, or if it becomes painful to speak, this can make it difficult to communicate with peers. A severe throat problem can also affect school performance (), both by making communication with teachers difficult and by making it likely that you will need to miss class for a few days while your throat heals. These complications can make it more difficult to perform well at school, so it is important to get treatment for a throat problem or other illness as soon as possible.

Medication and Treatment

If your sore throat or cold lasts a while or becomes severe, you may have to go on medication to ease the symptoms or combat an underlying infection. Over-the-counter cough medicine and throat lozenges can often help relieve or prevent the pain caused by a viral or bacterial infection. In some cases, medication for cough, colds or severe throat pain can be addictive. If you or someone you know has started using a prescription or over-the-counter medicine inappropriately, call 1-888-388-5605 for information about how to stop using these drugs.

Some teens prefer to use natural methods to treat a throat problem. Drinking herbal teas or hot water with honey and lemon can ease a sore throat without causing side effects. Some teens also find that cold drinks or ice pops can alleviate throat pain. Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids are time-honored ways to recover from a cold or infection. Humidifying the room may also loosen mucus in the throat and allow for a quicker recovery.

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