Causes & Treatment For Pain In The Right Side Of The Throat

If you are feeling pain in the right side of your throat, and not the left, it can be puzzling. Usually, a sore throat from allergies or an illness are felt uniformly. You are used to sore throats being felt evenly on the left and the right side.

But, there are some cases where you will have pain on only one side of your throat. We’ll cover all the potential causes of this, and help you determine whether you just need some throat lozenges or a trip to the doctor.

Why Do I Feel Sharp Pain In The Right Side Of My Throat?

IF you are only feeling sharp pain in the right side of your throat, it may not be something as serious as you think. 

In fact, sometimes this can be caused simply by how you sleep. For example, if you sleep on one side, you may wake up and feel pain more acutely on that side.

Or, it could just be swollen glands on the right side of your throat. But sometimes, this can be the sign of something a bit more serious.

Do You Feel The Pain When Swallowing?

If you feel pain in the right side of the throat while swallowing, it means there are three places we need to consider: The mouth, the larynx, and the esophagus.

All three of these components play a role in swallowing. So with that in mind, here are the most common (and serious, but uncommon) potential culprits. We’ll start with the least serious, and most common.

Acid Reflux (GERD)

Commonly, acid reflux can cause pain or a burning feeling in one side of your throat when swallowing. This makes sense when you think about it, due to the acidity associated with this condition.

For the most part, treating this condition is just about evaluating your diet and removing certain foods that exacerbate heartburn.

Postnasal Drip

Another potential cause of this pain could be your nasal system not working properly – leading to post nasal drip.

The mucus and saliva can become too much for our body to process, at which point it starts causing swelling in your throat, usually on just one side.


If you still have your tonsils, they could be to blame for the pain you feel on one side of your throat.

Tonsils are notorious for becoming infected, which causes serious pain when swallowing. Typically, just one tonsil is affected at a time, and you can feel this accordingly.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Similar to tonsillitis, swollen lymph nodes can become irritated and inflamed due to a virus or bacterial infection. In some cases, it can even be caused by an abscessed tooth.

You can test for this by actually feeling for your nodes below your jawline. If the right one feels inflamed, they are likely the culprit for pain on the right side of the throat.

In some cases, swollen lymph nodes can be the sign of something more serious – like certain types of cancers. But we’ll cover these more in a bit.


If your pain in the right side of the throat is accompanied by hoarse voice and overall throat discomfort, it could be laryngitis.

Laryngitis is a condition characterized by strained vocal chords. If you use your voice frequently, or have a virus or bacterial infection, this could be what you’re dealing with.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are incredibly painful ulcers that can be caused by irritation in your mouth. They can last for weeks, causing issues with your ability to eat food and drink water, due to the agony of swallowing.

They can be caused by your diet, mouth trauma, stress, or some sort of bacteria or virus.


Now we are getting into the more serious conditions that can cause pain in the right side of the throat. Epiglottitis can cause severe throat pain and difficulty swallowing, and unlike everything else we’ve covered thus far, this requires quick medical attention.

There is a flap in your throat, which can become inflamed or infected. When this happens, it not only hurts, but it can cause restriction to your lungs, making breathing more difficult.

This can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever, vocal changes, high-pitched noises when you breathe, and more.

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia

This is a far more rare, albeit more serious condition that can cause pain in the right side of your throat.

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia can cause severe nerve pain, and comes and goes in waves. Swallowing will trigger these pain attacks, and they can last for weeks at a time.

Certain Types Of Cancers (Mouth, Throat, Or Esophageal)

The last potential cause, and the most serious, of pain in one side of your throat is cancer. Most often when people complain of these types of pains, the cancer responsible is either mouth, throat, or esophageal.

Each of these three types of cancer has other symptoms associated with it to help you narrow down if this is truly the culprit. If you think there is a chance this is what’s going on with you, definitely schedule a doctor’s visit as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts On Pain In Right Side Of The Throat

You’re now aware of just how many things could be causing the pain you feel in the right side of your throat. It can be something as simple as a viral infection or a canker sore, or something more serious which requires medical attention.

The only way to find out is to identify other symptoms you may be feeling. One symptom alone is never enough to diagnose anything!

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Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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