A sore throat is a painful inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the pharynx.

Sore throats are usually caused by viral or bacterial infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat.

Sore throat is a common problem that affects almost everyone at some point in their life. The condition is characterized by pain or scratchiness in the throat, particularly when swallowing food or liquids. The pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as a cough, fever, and swollen glands.

Smoking causes a sore throat directly as well as indirectly. It also causes a range of other problems that lead to and worsen the sore throat you may be experiencing. If you smoke, there is a high possibility of you getting oral cancer, especially in the areas affected by irritation. Painful sores are likely to develop in your mouth as well as unhealthy cells. This usually leads to sore throats.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general.

Smoking causes chronic sore throat

Smoking may be the most common cause of a chronic sore throat. Tobacco smoke irritates the delicate mucous membranes of the throat, causing them to swell and leading to a chronic sore throat. Smokers tend to get more colds, which can also cause sore throats.

Achalasia Achalasia Causes  - naturalherbsclinic / Pixabay
naturalherbsclinic / Pixabay

Smoking can cause sore throat because of the following reasons:

  • Smoking causes dryness in the mouth, which leads to a sore throat.
  • Smoking dries out the mucus membranes of the body, including those of the throat.
  • Smoking also weakens the immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infections. This can make you more prone to a sore throat.
  • Substances in cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of your oral cavity. This irritation leads to a chronic sore throat.

Smoking worsens oral health problems

There are, of course, very serious health problems associated with cigarette smoking, but there are also other side effects that many people might not realize. Sore throat is one of the more common ones and can create a lot of discomfort for those experiencing it.

Smokers are more prone to sore throats, tumors, oral cancer, and other forms of mouth cancer. This link between smoking and oral health goes beyond the heart and lungs. Smoking can also contribute to diseases of the mouth, such as gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums.

Smoking can cause gum disease by damaging the tissue that supports the teeth, increasing inflammation, and slowing the flow of blood to the gums. This can lead to a greater risk for infections like gingivitis and periodontitis.

Smoking can cause throat irritation

Smoking causes irritation to your throat. When you smoke, it’s inevitable that your throat is going to become irritated. This is due to the smoke burning your throat and the harmful chemicals in cigarettes causing damage over time. All of this can contribute to a sore or burning sensation in the back of your throat.

The American Lung Association states that smoke of cigarettes contains over 7000 chemicals. When you inhale cigarette smoke, these chemicals irritate your throat and lungs, causing swelling and inflammation. This can make you cough. If you smoke cigarettes heavily, it could lead to chronic coughing, which often leads to a sore throat.

Smoking can cause painful sores in the mouth. These sores can make it hard to eat, drink, or swallow. They may also cause pain when you brush your teeth or use dentures.

Smoking and oral cancer

As smoking is injurious to health and one of the major reasons for causing mouth cancer.

A searing pain in the throat, a chronic hoarseness that comes and goes and difficulty swallowing are all symptoms of laryngeal cancer, which can be triggered by smoking cigarettes.

Cigarette smokers are at high risk for head and neck cancers caused by tobacco use. Cancer of the mouth accounts majority of all head and neck cancers in people who smoke or chew tobacco regularly.

Smoking and lung infections

Smoking a cigarette can also damage the ability of your blood to carry oxygen. Smoking damages the tiny hairs (cilia) that carry mucus up out of your lungs. Smokers are more likely to get lung diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis than non-smokers. Smoking also increases risk of peritonsillar absceses.

Smoking can affect your voice

The irritation of the throat normally leads to a burning sensation as well as soreness in the throat. This may lead to a hoarse voice or even very poor quality of voice.

Cigarette Smoke Burning Cigarette  - realworkhard / Pixabay
realworkhard / Pixabay

Smoking is a major cause of sore throat and hoarseness. The toxic substances in tobacco can damage the mucous membranes of your throat and voice box, leaving them irritated and inflamed.

Smoking causes dryness of the mouth

Smokers have less saliva than non-smokers, which leads to dry mouth. The dry mouth coupled with smoking may lead to a sore throat.

Smoking worsens GERD which leads to sore throat

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause sore throats. GERD is a digestive disorder that causes stomach acid to back up into your esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach). Bile, which is also acidic, sometimes refluxes from the stomach as well.

Smoking can make GERD worse because it increases the production of stomach acid and relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES), which normally acts as a barrier between the esophagus and stomach to prevent reflux.

The cycle goes on

Additionally, smoking cigarettes can cause other problems with a sore throat in an indirect way. For instance, when you’ve got a sore throat, the natural response is to cough. However, if you’re a smoker and have a sore throat from smoking cigarettes, you’re likely going to keep smoking in order to soothe your inflamed throat. Unfortunately, this only worsens the problem – it’s like putting oil on fire to extinguish it.

Take home message

The more you smoke, the more likely it is that you’ll develop a sore throat. If you’re a heavy smoker and have constant sore throats, you should consider quitting smoking.

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About Author

Chaleepa Mallawa

Chaleepa is working as a doctor based in Sri Lanka. He has interest in content creation based on health, science, tech and motivation.