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Smoking and Tobacco

Sore Throat on Left Side of My Throat

04/26/1998

Question:

I am a 2pack/day smoker for the past 17 years. In the past two weeks I have developed a sore throat on the left side of my throat. My voice is normal. Gargling only provides very temporary relief. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank You. P.S. What are the best smoking cessation programs for the truly hardcore smoker? In addition to the patch, are there any recommended prescriptions which help?

Answer:

A sore throat can be caused by many things such as infections, mechanical irritation from acid reflux, smoking, allergies, and other environmental irritants, and it can also be caused by cancerous and noncancerous tumors, although this would be more rare.

Your best bet would be to see your physician to rule out things such as infections and local mechanical irritants. One relatively common cause of noncancerous tumor causing a sore throat is from a benign thyroid nodule causing an irritation due to thyroiditis. The thyroiditis may be transient but the nodule would persist. Again, it is best to get this condition evaluated thoroughly.

The best smoking cessation programs are ones that involve more than one method of smoking cessation. Commonly they involve education, behavior modification, frequent follow-up and prescription medicines. These types of programs are available through your local hospital. If your hospital doesn't have a program, they can give you names of programs in your community. Some health insurance carriers also provide these services.

There are a variety of medications that can be used alone or in addition to nicotine patches in smoking cessation. Some of these include buspirone and bupropion. You may wish to discuss these options further with your physician, since he or she knows your medical history best.

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Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati