perpetual sore throat
May 5, 2016 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I've had this sore throat for the past month.

YANAD, YANMD. For a variety of travel reasons, it is very difficult for me to seek non-emergency care. I'm more curious in what's going on and what I can expect that immediately fixing it.

I have a sore throat. No big, but I've had this constant ache and lump in my throat for at least a month. I wake up in the morning and it feels like I can hardly swallow or breathe due to the lump in my throat. The aching gets a little better throughout the day.

I feel some relief to the irritation when I drink a hot or carbonated beverage.

I took a course of cipro for a UTI and that didn't do anything for the throat.
I am allergic to everything with leaves or fur and dust/mold. I was previously staying at home with tons of pollen and open windows; for the past two weeks, I have been in a hotel in a totally different state with tons of air conditioning. Outside or inside, regardless of location, it doesn't abate.

I take Zyrtec daily; I have been taking advil, which reduces the irritation but not the swelling.

posted by quadrilaterals to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Any illness that persists for a month needs to be looked at by a doctor.

Please make an appointment.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:58 AM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

Go see a Doctor. But, I'd bet you have chronic post-nasal drip from your allergies. For bad allergies, one Zyrtec isn't enough. You'll probably also need a formulation with pseudoephedrine to dry the drip and you may also need a steroid nasal spray.
posted by quince at 7:02 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Your description reminds me of when I had a peritonsillar abscess in my throat and waited around for a couple of weeks waiting for it to go away on its own (it didn't). Those can be very dangerous and lead to a septic infection. Please, please do everything you can to see a medical professional. They can aspirate it (which provided instant pain relief in my case) and get you on a course of antibiotics meant for this type of infection.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:06 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Add others have datos go see a doctor, but having said that I got similar problems from acid from my stomach at night and burning my esophagus. Basically acid reflux. Tipping the head of the bed up slightly can help but I found taking acid reducers used for heart burn before bed helped a lot too. An easy way to test if this is causng the problem take a couple of tums before bed each night for a week to see if that helps at all.
posted by wwax at 7:14 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

This and a cough is what my coworker had who just had her esophagus removed due to cancer. It could be anything. Don't ask the Internet, see a doctor who can actually examine you.
posted by cecic at 7:17 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I sometimes wake up with a sore throat because of my terrible, terrible sinuses. I'm also super allergic to dust, pollen, mold, cats, you name it, I'm probably allergic to it too, so I sympathize.

This is what my allergist told me to do (but this is not your allergist and I am not your allergist, so YMMV): Zyrtec is good, but when my sinuses are really bad, I'm to alternate with Zyrtec and Claratin, and sometimes do one in the morning and one in the evening since the 24-hour relief promised on the box doesn't actually last 24 hrs. for everybody, and my symptoms are worse when I sleep. Also, use a nasal spray, like Flonase twice a day, and a Neti Pot to help clear out buildup. Take a benadryl instead of the nightly Zyrtec or Claratin if the post-nasal drip is so bad that a good night's sleep is impossible.

Also, you'll almost definitely want to invest in allergy covers for your mattress and pillowcases at home, to help keep the dust at bay slightly. (I have a set of pillowcase covers that travel with me to hotels.) An air filter and/or a humidifier might also be good investments, and for goodness' sake, stop opening up the windows in your room, at the very least. Fresh air is nice and all, but not when you're allergic to everything in the air. Then it's just misery.

I'd probably try to get into urgent care at the very least to see if they can get you a prescription for some of this. The generic form of the nasal sprays are often much cheaper with a script if you have insurance, and they might be able to get you a prescription for Clarinex, which I used with some success, or another drug that I'm not thinking of because I found a system that (mostly) works for me. I also have terrible acid reflux (related to the chronic sinus issues), and only the prescription meds will make that bearable.
posted by PearlRose at 7:18 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Can you breathe through your nose? If not, you probably sleep with your mouth open, which may dry out your throat and explain why it's soar in the morning and gets better during the day. But you should see a doctor to get that checked out!
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2016

If you google "urgent care" + the zip code you're in you get a ton of results for those doc-in-a-box places where you can get seen for around $75. Patient First, Minute Clinic, etc. Apologies if this is obvious, but it's not something I would have thought of doing before I had kids and had to deal with the onslaught of ear infections, bouts of strep throat, etc. Seriously, these places basically exist to deal quickly and painlessly with minor infections.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:38 AM on May 5, 2016

If you're in a heavily air-conditioned space, are you staying well-hydrated? I almost always have a sore throat when spending a lot of time in that kind of environment.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:50 AM on May 5, 2016

Make an appointment. You could have an abscess that needs to be drained... or it could be a lot of things. But something that persists for this long should probably be at least looked at.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:15 AM on May 5, 2016

I would definitely go to a doctor. If it's allergies, there are more things you can do besides that an antihistamine. I thought I had a cold for about a month until I figured out it was allergies! I have found that using an air purifier helps a ton, especially for the sore throat/coughing problem. Also doing a saline rinse twice daily (either with a neti pot or the NeilMed squeezy bottle, which I vastly prefer.). Flonase is also a life-saver.
posted by radioamy at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2016

Your "sore throat for the past month" pretty much coincides with the spring allergy season in the US. Maybe you need new allergy meds.

Or sinusitis combined with allergies.

Or acid reflux. Has diet or stress changed recently?
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:18 AM on May 5, 2016

Early recognition is a key factor in the outcomes of head and neck cancers. I am not trying to scare you, but i had a lump in my throat for several weeks 2 years ago. Because I am a practicing dentist, and check throats and tongues daily, i had it checked. sure enough it was squamous cell carcinoma. i am a nonsmoker, very healthy.
I am 2 years cancer free this week, but have first-hand professional knowledge of far worse outcomes for folks who waited too long.
See a doctor, dentist, ENT or oral surgeon. have it scoped and have a biopsy. follow through. it may be nothing, but if it's something these steps might save your life.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

You absolutely should see a doctor ASAP. I actually just went through this. In November I had what felt like a lump in my throat. First I chalked it up to a nascent cold, then stress/anxiety as, at the end of the year, I got married, moved in with my husband, left my job of 10 years, and then left the country for three months. I kept waiting for it to go away, but it didn't. As a 30-yr smoker, I was terrified to see a doctor, let alone navigate another country's health care system. When I got back just a few weeks ago I went to my doctor, who then sent me right away to an ENT. My diagnosis was acid reflux. The ENT said I was their luckiest patient that week. Please, see a doctor.
posted by fiery.hogue at 1:18 PM on May 5, 2016

Echoing the chorus that you need to see a physician, and likely an ENT doctor, soon. Advice over the internet does not replace actual evaluation by a physician.
posted by scalespace at 4:18 PM on May 5, 2016

NOT a doctor, and definitely get it checked out because other things are way more likely than this, but in the list of benign things it could be: you can get mouth sores (canker sores) in the back of your mouth/beginning of your throat that feel like a sore throat. Mine are severely exacerbated by certain toothpastes and also acidic foods. Did you switch toothpastes? Dietary changes?
posted by anaelith at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2016

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