Difficulty Swallowing and Other Problems Caused by Throat Ulcers

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There are a number of conditions that can result in throat ulcers. A throat ulcer accompanied by certain symptoms, such as dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) requires medical intervention. We look at some of these conditions and symptoms.


GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is caused by regurgitated stomach acid. The treatments available for GERD are relatively easy to implement; simply eat the last meal at least three hours before bedtime, eat smaller meals, elevate the head of the bed, and use antacids that are available from the drug store without a prescription. Eliminating certain foods from the diet can help to prevent GERD. Foods to avoid include spicy and fatty meals, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, citrus, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and peppermint.

As GERD can encourage the development of throat ulcers, the person needs to see a doctor if home treatments are not effective. Children can also be affected by GERD.

Infections, Allergies, and Other Causes of Throat Ulcers

Pollen, pet dander, or mold allergies can also cause a sore throat and possibly a throat ulcer. Mucus is formed by the allergic reaction and collects in the throat where it leads to inflammation and pain. Some individuals get a scratchy or raw throat from dry air, while excessive screaming can injure the throat.

Infections that may result in throat ulcers are flu or the common cold, strep throat, HIV/AIDS, diphtheria, herpes simplex virus, whooping cough, chickenpox, Epstein-Barr virus, mononucleosis (glandular fever), tonsillitis, oral thrush, measles, croup, and herpangina.


Herpangina is characterized by tiny sores resembling blisters that form on the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat. It is caused by a virus and affects children between three and ten years old during the fall and summer months.

Herpangina is infectious and similar to hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Other symptoms apart from throat ulcers are fever, headaches, neck pain, drooling, and loss of appetite. It is treated with pain-relieving medications, anesthetics applied topically to ulcers, avoiding certain foods (see the GERD list), and plenty of rest and water.


Dysphagia is one of the main symptoms that accompany throat ulcers. This indicator has many causes of its own, such as cancer, neurological disorders (e.g., muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and myotonic dystrophy), Zenker’s diverticulum, and neurological damage (e.g., strokes and damage to the spinal cord or brain). A patient with a throat ulcer accompanied by dysphagia may also have Helicobacter pylori infection. The latter is easily treated with antibiotic therapy.

In general, dysphagia can have dangerous outcomes. Dysphagia can cause a person to choke to death if they are not administered the Heimlich maneuver. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when food passes into the lungs instead of the stomach. Dehydration is a serious condition that results from the patient not getting enough liquid. It may occur with malnutrition from food not reaching the stomach for digestion. Meals are usually made into puree and drinks are thickened with easymix Simply Thick to make them easier to consume when swallowing is compromised.

Therapy for Serious Conditions

Therapies used to treat cancer and other serious diseases can cause throat ulcers. Most commonly, these are radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Cancer is one of the more common causes of dysphagia.

When home remedies do not work for throat ulcers, it is important to see a doctor, as it may be a sign of a more serious condition.