It’s that season of the year where a lot of people have this itchy, irritating, and sometimes painful feeling in their throat. This pain can even make swallowing fluid and food a little difficult. While a sore throat may not often send you to the Doctor or lead to a medical emergency, it sure can keep you uncomfortable, alter your daily routine or even rob you of a good night sleep. Below you can find out more about the causes of a sore throat, some remedies and how to prevent it from happening to you.
CAUSES OF SORE THROAT
A sore throat is usually caused by the cold or flu virus. However, in rare cases, a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, whooping cough and diphtheria, can cause a sore throat. Less commonly, smoking, hay fever (an allergic reaction to pollen or spores), or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (a condition that causes acid to leak upwards from the stomach into the gullet) can also cause a sore throat.
Some people may put up with the discomfort associated with a sore throat. But if you’re like me and your work requires talking to people – whether it’s a large group of persons, a handful of people or just one person – you definitely would want some relief.
REMEDIES FOR SORE THROAT
A sore throat usually runs its course and resolves within seven days. There are, however, some home remedies you can use.
Over-the-counter medications painkillers, such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) are usually recommended for a sore throat, especially if it is associated with fever.
Please always read the manufacturer’s instructions so you do not exceed the recommended or prescribed dose.
The following tips may help relieve the symptoms of sore throat:
- Gargle regularly with a mouthwash of lukewarm, salty water. This may help reduce swelling or pain.
- You can suck over-the-counter lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice-lollies (this is only suitable for adults and children over 5 years).
- Extracts, supplements and oils of garlic, licorice, fenugreek, and peppermint have also been shown to relieve a sore throat. Please talk with your Doctor before using any supplement or oil.
- Honey alone or mixed with lemon may help soothe and speed healing for a sore throat.
- Drink cool or warm liquids and eat soft food.
- Abstain from food or drink that is too hot and spicy, as this could irritate the throat.
- You can use a humidifier to moisten your room as this has a way of reducing the pain caused by a sore throat.
- Avoid smoking and smoky environments.
The use of antibiotics is not usually recommended for treating sore throats. Most sore throats are not caused by bacteria, hence, you may not need an antibiotic. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat minor ailments can also make them less effective in the treatment of life-threatening conditions (a problem know as ‘antibiotic resistance’).
However, in some cases your Doctor might issue you a prescription. This is usually the case in severe sore throat associated with other medical conditions like weakened immune system, recurrent infections, etc.
PREVENTING A SORE THROAT
As sore throats are caused by bacterial or viral infections, they can be difficult to prevent.
Practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands regularly and keeping surfaces clean and germ-free; and, staying away from people who are sick with an infectious illness like the flu or strep can help you prevent getting sore throat. Generally, we recommend you keep your immune system strong by taking enough rest, exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Don’t let a sore throat make your day sour; you can do something about it. We hope these tips help!