Painful Sore Throat on One Side Only and Its Causes

What is a sore throat on one side? This refers to pain on one side of the throat.  Sores can affect either the left or the right side of the throat and make it hurt. This is caused by allergies, strep throat, voice misuse or at times tonsillitis. Sores on either side of the throat can be acute with no tonsils or at time chronic. This may be accompanied by some other complications like an earache, pain when swallowing etc.

A sore throat on one side only

A sore throat is an infection that affects most people. It is a condition that people do experience at least once throughout their lives. A sore throat is caused by various conditions like a virus, the effects of a known health condition, smoking or at times caused by certain medications. It is characterized by scratchy, aching pain in the throat.

Sore throat on one side
A sore throat and earache on one side

Moreover, sore throat on one side only gives an alert of a specific condition affecting tonsils, lymph nodes or the lymphatic tissue. Or it could just be the unpleasant result of recent dental work as you sometimes breathe differently depending on the procedure done.

A swollen sore throat, neck pain and earache on one side

Sores on none side of the throat may cause the rise of many other undesirable complications like a swollen sore throat, neck pain, and earache on one side.

1. A swollen sore throat

A swollen sore throat is an indicator of lymph nodes enlargement in the neck region. Swollen lymph nodes in the throat are in most cases caused by infections and inflammation of the throat.

2. Neck pain (neck hurts on one side)

A sore throat has a number of symptoms like pain when swallowing, swollen tonsils, hoarse voice, white patches on the tonsils and swollen glands in the neck region. The swelling of the neck glands is the one responsible for neck pains.

However, neck pain is not always a result of a sore throat. It is also caused by other infections such as, whiplash which is a severe neck injury, torticollis and thyroid nodules among others.

3. Earache and pain

Earache is very common in children. It is one of the common symptoms of strep throat.  When this infection is caused by bacteria, it causes the middle ear to be filled by pus thus causing severe pain.

Swollen lymph nodes under the chin and the front of the neck could indicate any kind of infection, not just strep throat. They could accompany an ear infection or sinus infection, for example.

A sore throat on one side when swallowing

Pain experienced when swallowing is normally caused by an infection or at times is caused by an allergic reaction. A sore throat may irritation, pain, and itchiness that makes it very hard to swallow something and the pain may become severe if an attempt is made to swallow.

Chronic sore throat allergies

Postnasal drip is the main culprit in cases of an allergy-induced sore throat. It occurs due to an exposure to an allergen, postnasal drip occurs when congestion in the sinuses drains down the throat, causing tickling or scratchy pain. The drainage may also be accompanied by:

An allergic reaction in your throat can also cause it to be sore
An allergic reaction in your throat can also cause it to be sore.
  • coughing
  • excessive swallowing
  • throat irritation
  • difficulty speaking

In addition to that, most allergies such as pollen allergies, are seasonal. If one experiences symptoms year-round, the symptoms are likely to worsen during seasons of high airborne irritants, such as pollinating flowers and trees during springtime.

See also: Itchy throat causes, treatment, and fast relief remedies. Other common allergens that may cause a sore throat to include:

  • cigarette smoke
  • dust mites
  • mold and mildew
  • pet dander

Natural remedies for an allergy-induced sore throat

Natural remedies are popular ways to soothe sore throat symptoms. Though it may not cure the postnasal drip causing the sore, scratchy feeling, they can provide temporary relief.

  1. Water to curb dryness

Water is always recommended for any congestion problems. Dryness exacerbates the problem. Not only does drinking plenty of fluids help keep the throat moist, it also helps thin the mucus.

  1. Warm liquid for soothing

Warm liquids such as soups and hot teas can provide comfort to a sore throat. Gargling with warm salt water can also help soothe it. Stay away from caffeinated beverages when you have a sore throat, as caffeine can be an irritant.

  1. Neti pots for flushing out sinuses

This remedy entails pouring a specially formulated salt-water solution directly into your nasal cavity. Using a neti pot flushes out your sinuses and helps relieve congestion. However, if overused can cause further problems.

An acute sore throat with no tonsils

Sore throats are in most cases caused by a viral infection. To be particular, if one is diagnosed to have strep throat, this infection comes with no tonsils. In such cases, it is advisable to use antibiotics alone.

Causes of a sore throat on one side only

A sore throat can appear on any of the sides of the throat. This is due to the fact that it can appear either on the left or right side of the throat. However, painful sore throat on one side causes a lot of discomfort in the throat.

Due to discomfort caused by a sore throat, it calls for fast and immediate treatment in order to clear the sores from the throat. However, before seeking medical attention, it is always wise to identify the major cause of the sore on one side of the throat.

Below are the possible causes of a sore throat on one side:

1. Dental procedures

An abscessed tooth or gum disease can cause your throat to ache, particularly if there is an infection that can spread into the throat region. The position you rest in during a procedure can also affect your breathing ability, resulting in a sore throat.

2. Common cold or flu symptoms most often include a sore throat

You may feel this more on one side during resting hours if you sleep on one side as the mucus will drain into your throat from your nose.

3. Swollen lymph nodes 

Swollen lymph nodes caused by an infection can result in a sore throat on one side. As a cold or ear infection, it can be felt on either side at times. When the neck lymph nodes became enlarged, they are usually felt more on one side.

4. Vocal cord nodules 

These are calluses that normally appear on the vocal cords after continuous use of voice with little rest. This will then lead to the formation of a sore spot on the throat. See more on throat polyps.

5. Strep throat, or a bacterial infection

Strep throat is a condition caused by a bacterial infection that is normally treated with antibiotics.  In most case, it targets one side of the throat region and sometimes will begin on one side and radiate over to the other side. The symptoms of strep throat include:

  • A severe sore throat
  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes in the neck

6. Tonsillitis 

The main function of tonsils is to trap bacteria and viruses that enter your body through your mouth. However, tonsils are also vulnerable to infection from these invaders. Tonsillitis can be caused by a virus, such as the common cold, or by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat.

This normally occurs when your tonsils become inflamed from an infection, whether it be from a virus or bacteria. A severe sore throat on the left side, right side, or throughout the entire throat, is the first sign of tonsillitis.

7. Peritonsillar abscess

Peritonsillar abscess can cause a throat to be very painful on one side. A complication of tonsillitis, this develops from a pus-filled sore near the tonsils.

8. Laryngitis

This is an inflammation of the voice box. The inflammation causes a voice to become raspy or hoarse. This condition normally comes on a quick note and lasts no more than two weeks. This condition is caused by, cold or flu, voice overuse, irritation from allergies, acid reflux etc.

Laryngitis is characterized by a sore throat, coughing, and difficulties in swallowing among others.

9. Glandular fever

Glandular fever is a kind of viral infection that mostly affects young adults. It is also termed as infectious mononucleosis. It several undesirable symptoms. However, the symptoms due disappear within a short period of time. These are:

  • a severely sore throat
  • a high-temperature
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • extreme tiredness

Treatments for Sore Throat on One Side

While some of the causes of a sore throat on one side will require you to seek medical attention, there are home remedies to relieve the pain and discomfort. The goodness behind homemade remedies is that they are natural, less expensive and less or no side effects. Some of the effective remedies for a sore throat include;

1. Steam Shower

It entails the use of hot water steam. Done by taking deep breaths in an enclosed room. The steam will help soothe an aching throat as well as loosen any mucus you may have. This is very effective whether you are in the water or just in a small bathroom with the door closed.

2. Humidifier

Using a humidifier to put moisture in a dry room will help a sore throat, if not prevent one from starting. You can also use essential oils such as eucalyptus to clear any respiratory issues that cause a sore throat.

3. Honey

Combine a few drops of honey in a cup of tea or take a spoonful of honey to help ease an aching throat.

4. Water

Cold water can help take the sting out of a sore throat and will keep you hydrated to prevent worse pain from being dry in the mouth and throat.

5. Cough Drops

Use the ones that contain honey or eucalyptus for added sore throat relief. Avoid ones with added menthol as this can cause more discomfort before any good effects are felt.

6. Gargling

This age-old remedy is quickly and easily accessible, and fast-acting. Mix one teaspoon of table salt with a cup of warm water and gargle in your throat. Try not to swallow it as it may cause more pain. Repeat several times daily while experiencing a sore throat or cold.

Natural home remedies for a sore throat on one side

A sore throat on one side can be treated by use of naturally available home remedies. Some of these useful remedies include:

1. Honey

Honey is an effective wound healer, which means it may help speed healing for sore throats.  When mixed in tea or taken on its own is a common household remedy for a sore throat. It is revealed that honey was even more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants.

2. Saltwater

Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat and break down secretions. It’s also known to help kill bacteria in the throat. For effectiveness, follow the procedure below:

  1. Make a saltwater solution with a half-teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water.
  2. Gargle it to help reduce swelling and keep the throat clean.
  3. This should be done every three hours or so.

3. Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is naturally soothing. It has long been used for medicinal purposes, like soothing a sore throat. It’s often used for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent properties.

Inhaling chamomile steam can help relieve symptoms of a cold, including a sore throat. Drinking chamomile tea can offer the same benefit. It can also stimulate the immune system to help your body fight off the infection that caused your sore throat in the first place.

4.    Peppermint

Peppermint is a breath freshener. In addition to this, it can also be used to soothe and relieve a sore throat. Peppermint contains methanol, this gives it the ability to thin mucus, soothe sore throats and coughs. More so, peppermint possess anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which may encourage healing.

However, essential oils should never be ingested or used alone. They should be mixed with the carrier oil like olive oil, almond, coconut oil etc. Therefore, peppermint should be mixed with one ounce of the carrier oil that one may decide to use.

5.    A mixture of baking soda + salt

Gargling a mixture of baking soda and salt is very effective when it comes to relieving sore throats. Though salt can also be used alone to do the same purpose. The use of this solution helps in killing the bacteria present in or around the throat and also plays a role in inhibiting the growth of yeast and fungus.

For maximum results, make a mixture using the ingredients below:

  • 1 cup warm water,
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda,
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

It highly recommended that the rinse should be used after every three hours.

6.    Fenugreek tea

Fenugreek tea is an effective natural remedy for sore throats. It is an effective antifungal remedy. This remedy, therefore, operates by killing any bacteria causing inflammation or irritation of the throat.

7. Marshmallow root remedy

Marshmallow root contains a mucus-like substance that coats and soothes a sore throat. Therefore, it may be used as a natural home remedy for sore throats. Below are the steps for using it:

  1. Simply add some of the dried roots to a cup of boiling water to make tea.
  2. Sip the tea two to three times a day may help ease throat pain.

However, people with diabetes should talk to a doctor before taking marshmallow root. The reason is that the use of this remedy may cause a significant drop in blood sugar level.

8. Licorice root

Licorice root is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavor can be extracted. It is a herbaceous perennial legume native to Southern Europe and parts of Asia such as India. This root is widely used in the treatment of sore throats. For effective use, this remedy works better when mixed with water.

9. Slippery elm

This is a species of elm native to eastern North America. It has a mucus-like substance in it. When mixed with water, it forms a slick gel that coats and soothes the throat. To use,

  1. Pour boiling water over powdered bark,
  2. Stir well,

10. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has many natural antibacterial uses. Numerous studies show its antimicrobial effects in fighting infections. Because of its acidic nature, it can be used to help break down mucus in the throat and stop bacteria from spreading.

If you sense a sore throat coming on, try diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV in one cup of water and gargle with it. Then take a small sip of the mixture, and repeat the whole process one to two times per hour. Make sure to drink lots of water in between the gargling sessions.

11. Garlic

Garlic also has natural antibacterial properties. It contains allicin, an organosulfur compound known for its ability to fight off infections. Adding fresh garlic to your diet is also a way of gaining its antimicrobial properties.

12. Cayenne pepper or hot sauce

Often used as a pain reliever, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural compound known for blocking pain receptors.

Although not scientifically proven, ingesting cayenne mixed with warm water and honey can help with pain relief for sore throats. Remember that an initial burning sensation is common. Cayenne should not be taken if you have open sores in your mouth. Start with just a few drops of hot sauce or a light sprinkle of cayenne, as both can be very hot.

Sources and references

  1. NHS Choices: Sore Throat
  2. Healthline: 12 Natural home remedies for sore throat
  3. Healthline: Allergies and Sore Throat
  4. WebMD: What is Laryngitis?
  5. MAYOCLINIC: Sore Throat
About Dr. Joe Morales 224 Articles
Dr. Joe is a South Africa based health and medical researcher for Treat Cure Fast. Dr. Joe believes in spreading health knowledge as much as possible to promote safety and overall health. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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