ZocdocAnswersWhat exam or test should I do to find out the reason for my chronic sore throat of 30 years?

Question

What exam or test should I do to find out the reason for my chronic sore throat of 30 years?

I am a 43-year-old woman. Since I was a teenager I began to have a sore throat every day. I don’t have any other cold symptoms, no fever, no runny nose, and no cough, but my throat feels sore all the time. I saw many doctors and tried cold medicines and allergy medicines too, but nothing can help relieve my soreness. I even dare not speak much now because if I speak my throat will hurt. I am afraid that someday this problem will become cancer. Can you please tell me what exam or test I should do to figure out the reason for this problem? Thank you!

Answer

That is a very unfortunate and somewhat unusual problem! In general, a sore throat should resolve over time, but definitely 30 years is too long. I would also be interested to know if you have other symptoms, such as pain or difficulty with swallowing, coughing up blood, or a feeling of fullness in your throat (called a globus sensation by the surgeons who deal with this sort of thing)? As you say that you have already spoken with many doctors, I will assume that they have asked these questions and never found anything terribly concerning. At this point, I would recommend visiting with a head and neck surgeon, AKA otolaryngologist AKA Ear-Nose-Throat surgeon. They will likely perform a simple in office procedure involving the passing of a small flexible scope through one of your nostrils down into the area of your voicebox to get a close look. This will often lead to an immediate diagnosis, and will also be helpful if you are worried about the soreness ever becoming something more serious than just an annoyance (i.e., cancer). In your specific situation, it could very well be reflux that is causing your symptoms, as it has lasted for so long. If so, there are many solutions available. Even if it is not, please see an ENT surgeon soon, as a sore throat that has lasted this long is not a good thing.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.