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Throat pain can occur do to a number of different causes. Viral infections are the most common cause. Other causes include bacterial infections, allergies, irritants, gastroesophageal reflux disease, tumors, and dry air, among others. A sore throat usually lasts for a week or two. If it persists beyond that, you should seek medical help. A condition that lasts for longer than a couple 
of weeks might be a sign of another, more serious, illness.

What can cause throat pain that 'moves around'?

A few different causes come to mind. If you do not have fever, or enlarged lymph nodes, an infection isn't the first thing that I would suspect.

  • Painful sensations that move or switch sides can be attributed to allergies, especially during times when seasonal allergies are active. There are many different types of therapies for allergies, such as corticosteroids and immuno-therapy, but avoiding the allergen is the first step to feeling better.
  • If you experience pain when you press your throat with your finger, the cause might be a strained muscle. This happens when you yell or talk loudly for a long time. Just resting your voice for a week should help you with your condition, if a strained muscle is the cause.
  • Irritants are another potential non-infectious cause of a sore throat. If you live in a polluted neighborhood, if you smoke and/or are exposed to secondhand smoke, this kind of irritation can be the cause of your sore throat. Avoiding these irritants is the only way to avoid further irritation of your throat.
  • Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. It's usually caused by bacteria. In most cases, it presents with a fever and lasts for a few weeks, but sometimes the pain can last longer and a fever might not be present. If this is the case, you should take antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
  • Glandular fever (mononucleosis) is a disease common to teenagers, and it is caused by Epstein Barr virus. The illness lasts from two to 18 months, and the symptoms usually include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue, but I wouldn't write it off as a cause. There is no therapy for glandular fever, and most people recover after a few months.
  • Throat cancer is a rare type of cancer, but one of the symptoms of the disease is persistent, long-term, throat pain. Smoking and drinking alcohol increase the risk of this type of cancer. Although it is very unlikely, it has to be mentioned as one of the causes of throat pain.

What should I do now?

Whatever the cause of your pain is, the first thing you should do is go see a doctor. Do not continue suffering in silence, assuming that the problem will clear up on its own with time. This may be true, but more serious causes that absolutely require treatment are also possible.

Your doctor will conduct tests to determine the exact cause of your pain, and will also check your ears, nose and sinuses, since the infection can spread from those organs to the throat. Once your doctor makes the correct diagnosis, adequate treatment can be prescribed. 

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