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What Causes a Burning Throat?

Daniel Liden
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many different illnesses and conditions that can cause a burning throat. Some are caused by infection, while others are caused by acid within the body. A variety of bacterial and viral infections, usually recognizable through other symptoms, such as congestion and headache, can cause irritation and burning in the throat. Acid reflux, which occurs when some of the contents of the stomach such as stomach acid and other solids or liquids leak back into the esophagus, can also cause a burning throat. A burning sensation could also be caused by physical injury to the throat, as could happen if something sharp or extremely hot were swallowed.

Heartburn is one of the most common causes of burning in the throat. Heartburn occurs when the contents of the stomach to leak into the esophagus, causing burning sensations and discomfort in the chest and throat. There are many different foods that can trigger these symptoms, such as alcohol, peppermint, citrus fruits or juices, and tomatoes. Heartburn can generally be treated through the use of over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors, H2 antagonists, and promotility agents. Antacids are generally basic substances that quickly neutralize the acid that causes a burning throat, while the others are slow-acting medications that can cause general relief over time.

Though antacids are very effective at relieving the discomfort associated with this burning sensation, they may actually mask a more significant problem. While simply overeating or eating an excess of a certain type of food can cause occasional heartburn, persistent heartburn may be caused by a more significant underlying condition. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux disease, can cause persistent heartburn and burning in the throat. It is more serious than occasional heartburn, though, because in addition to unpleasant symptoms such as the burning sensation, it can also involve physical damage to the esophagus. Frequent exposure to stomach acid can severely damage the esophagus.

Bacterial and viral infections can cause several different types of sore throats, including a burning throat. Such infections generally cause a more general sore throat, however; an actual burning sensation is rare. If the burning sensation is accompanied by a cough, congestion, headache, or other flu-like symptoms, it is likely that an infection of some form is causing irritation in the throat. It is far more common to suffer from a sharp pain or from itchiness or irritation when an infection is the cause of throat pain. A true burning sensation is much more commonly caused by stomach problems.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Daniel Liden
By Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to his work. With a diverse academic background, he crafts compelling content on complex subjects, showcasing his ability to effectively communicate intricate ideas. He is skilled at understanding and connecting with target audiences, making him a valuable contributor.
Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Apr 03, 2012

Why do fruit juices cause burning of throat for some people and not others?

Several friends and I have been really into healthy eating, raw foods and fruit juices lately. We go to juice bars several times of week for fruit and vegetable juices. For some reason, when I have juices of some fruits- strawberries, kiwis and pineapples are the ones I've identified so far- my throat burns really bad. None of my other friends complain of this.

The first time it happened, I thought I was having an allergic reaction but I didn't have any other symptoms aside from a burning throat. I have no idea what's going on. Has this happened to anyone else? Why do you think this is?

By candyquilt — On Apr 03, 2012

A burning throat because of acid reflux is horrible. I've been dealing with acid reflux disease for several years. I never know when my stomach is going to act up. I watch my diet but all of the sudden I can have an acidic stomach, nausea, vomiting and gas. The worst part is when I get a flaming burning throat late at night because of it.

I read in a health magazine the other day that acid reflux patients might be at risk for throat cancer because stomach acid is constantly burning the throat and irritating it. Doctors recommend sipping water or milk and taking antacids when this happens to keep acid down and away from the throat.

I've been doing this and it's working. I especially find milk really soothing for the throat. If nothing else, I sip on water, take my antacids and wait for my stomach to settle down.

By SteamLouis — On Apr 02, 2012

I usually get burning throat symptoms when I have a bad cold and cough for many days. Since I was young, I always start coughing when I get an infection or a cold. And my cough lasts for a very long time, weeks on end if I don't get treatment.

Just last month, after a few days of coughing, my throat hurt and burned very badly. I'm not sure why this happened but I think it might have been due to irritation. Sometimes when I cough intensely, I get a sharp pain in my throat followed by a burning sensation there.

Hot drinks like soothing teas and cough drops seem to help a lot. I also get those throat lozenges with analgesics at the pharmacy. These numb my throat so I don't feel the burning, itching pain.

By bagley79 — On Apr 01, 2012

Thankfully I don't have any problems with heartburn or acid reflux. The times I have a burning sore throat is if I try to drink coffee or hot chocolate before it has cooled down enough.

Just one little sip is all it takes, and I will have a burning throat for days. You think I would have learned my lesson by now, but it still happens when I get too impatient.

I have even had this problem eating a spoonful of soup that is too hot. If I would just learn to be a little bit more patient, I could avoid this in the first place.

By andee — On Apr 01, 2012

@honeybees - It seems like many acid reflux symptoms are worse at night. My chiropractor recommended I raise the head of my bed about 4 inches, if possible.

This way the gravity from the raised bed would help the acid stay down in the stomach instead of making its way back up my esophagus and causing the sore, burning throat.

This burning throat is such a strange sensation because it is so different from a sore throat you might have with a cold or strep throat. I believe one of the reasons so many people struggle with this is because of the types of food we eat on a regular basis.

I know certain foods that are healthy can aggravate this problem, but many times it is brought on by eating fatty, greasy foods that our digestive system has a hard time processing.

By sunshined — On Mar 31, 2012

My problem with acid reflux and a burning throat is chronic. I can understand how foods like tomatoes and citrus juices can cause problems because they both have a lot of acid in them.

I was surprised to learn that peppermint can also cause problems that lead to throat burn. Most of the time when I have stomach problems, sucking on a mint seems like it would soothe my stomach instead of making it worse.

I take over-the-counter medication everyday that helps with my symptoms. The times I have gone off this medication for a few days, the burning sensation in my throat is back.

I know this is a common problem for many people and the number of antacids and proton pump inhibitors that are sold is a huge amount.

It does make me much more conscious of the types of food I eat. I also try to avoid eating right before I go to bed.

By honeybees — On Mar 30, 2012

I know what it feels like to have burning throat pain from heartburn. It seems strange that something wrong in your stomach can have effects like that all the way up in your throat.

This isn't a chronic problem for me, but I notice it most often after I eat greasy foods. Even though I know better, I still find myself eating those foods I love.

This is always worse if this is my evening meal. When I feel that burning in my throat, I know I over did it, and will probably be miserable for a few hours.

If I take an antacid before bed it helps take care of the indigestion, and the burning in my throat eventually goes away.

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to...
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