Having a sore throat is uncomfortable and inconvenient – even more so when accompanied by a sore tongue. If you are suffering from a combination of sore throat and tongue, your diagnosis will depend on the other signs and symptoms you are experiencing.
Causes of a Sore Tongue and Throat
Mouth ulcers are a common cause of painful throat and tongue. Whether caused by canker sores, cuts from sharp foods or germs, mouth ulcers can affect any of the soft tissues inside your mouth – including your tongue, inner cheeks, and the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. You should not exclude conditions such as candidiasis, thrush or burning mouth syndrome, however, since they are also common triggers of a sore throat and tongue.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients who have any of these conditions typically show some or all of the following signs:
- Tiny red or white spots on the tongue and throat
- Blisters containing fluid
- Sore and swollen throat
- Pain and difficulty swallowing
- Swollen tongue
- Sensitivity to hot foods
This oral irritation may also trigger a fever, chills or sweating.
The first step in determining the reason for your sore tongue and throat is to find (and deter) the cause of the pain itself. Move to quit smoking, step up your oral health routine by brushing after each meal, and rinse your mouth daily with a mouth sore rinse to clean and soothe ulcers and other mouth irritations. If your sore throat and tongue are indeed related to oral hygiene, this should eliminate the cause and promote long-term healing. Check with your dental professional or doctor about using medications to reduce swelling.
When to See a Doctor
Most mouth sores and irritations disappear within 14 days. If your sore throat and tongue returns or lasts longer than this period with no sign of clearing, make an appointment with your doctor. Sore throats that are exceptionally severe – or result in a fever of over 38°C – might indicate an infection that requires antibiotic treatment. You may also be a candidate for more comprehensive treatments of tonsillitis, swollen glands or a thyroid condition.
Bear in mind that cancers of the head and neck can also cause symptoms like sore throat and tongue, but in that case symptoms often persist beyond a few weeks in spite of treatment. They may also be accompanied by hoarseness, coughing, difficulty breathing, ear pain or unexpected weight loss.
With proper dental care and a good oral hygiene routine, you can protect your teeth and tongue from basic health problems and deal with related concerns immediately when they arise.