ZocdocAnswersWhat is causing my throat to be sore for over a year?

Question

What is causing my throat to be sore for over a year?

The left side of my throat has been burning every day since January 2012. The pain varies from none to a scratchy feeling to slight burning throughout the day. It doesn't hurt to swallow and I haven't coughed up blood or had any other symptoms. I have had 2 MRIs of my throat, seen 3 ENTs including a throat cancer specialist at UT Southwestern, and been scoped by two of them. I have also seen a gastroenterologist who did an upper endoscopy. Nothing other than ugly / big tonsils has been noted. 2 ENTs suggested tonsillectomy but one says he doesn't think it will help and at 39 years old I'd rather not go through the pain unless it's going to be curative and / or lead to a definitive diagnosis. Any ideas at all what could be going on?

Answer

It sounds like you have been experiencing significantly bothersome symptoms and have had a very thorough evaluation. It's a good thing that you have been seen by several specialists and had some imaging and scope evaluations performed--with long-standing symptoms like this, it is important to rule out things like infection, cancer, or heartburn. In determining your next step, you have a few options. First of all, when seeing multiple specialists as you have, it is helpful to have one main physician, often your PCP, who helps you sort through the specialist recommendations. In this setting, it would likely be very helpful to sit down with whomever you identify as your 'main doctor' and go over your test results and the reports from the various imaging studies, scopes, and consultation visits. In the end, complicated presentations such as yours often end up with the patient and his/her physician(s) having to make the best decision for that patient, without knowing 100% how things will develop from there. It sounds like whether or not to have the tonsillectomy is the big decision you are currently facing, and unfortunately there's no way to guarantee whether that will help. In the end, you will need to weigh the recommendations and try to make the best decision. It will be very helpful to go over the risks and benefits with the physician who knows you the best. Book an appointment with your primary care physician today!

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