The list of common causes of sore throat includes a viral infection, such as a cold or flu, or bacteria. In some cases, home remedies are sufficient to calm the discomfort, but sometimes medical attention is required. Learn more about the causes of sore throat, as well as how to deal with it, in our material.
Sore throat: causes
Viruses and bacteria are the two most common causes of sore throat.
Unpleasant sensations can occur due to such viral infections as:
- Epstein-Barr virus, which leads to infectious mononucleosis, known as glandular fever.
If symptoms are severe, be sure to consult a doctor. However, keep in mind that antibiotics will not help here.
“Streptococcal throat inflammation” is the most common type of throat infection resulting from exposure to a strain of bacteria streptococcus.
- Temperature is higher than 38 ° С.
- White spots on the throat.
- Swelling or tenderness of the glands in the neck.
Here, on the contrary, antibiotics will help. Untreated throat inflammation may increase the risk of rheumatism or kidney inflammation.
Other common causes of sore throat:
- Irritation caused by dry, hot air, pollutants or chemicals.
- Reflux when stomach acids enter the back of the throat.
- Cold air.
More severe, but less common conditions that may be accompanied by sore throat:
- HIV infection.
- Tumors of the throat, tongue or larynx.
Epiglottitis is a rare but potentially dangerous throat infection in which inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis can close the airways, making it difficult to breathe. In this case, emergency medical care is required.
People who are most at risk for frequent sore throats:
- Children aged 5–15 years.
- People with allergies.
- People with a weakened immune system.
- People who come in contact with chemical irritants.
- People who have prolonged or frequent sinus infections.
- People whose tonsils are large or irregular in shape.
Sore throat: when to see a doctor
In most cases, unpleasant symptoms disappear on their own within 5-10 days, and usually home treatment is enough for this. But sometimes you just can not do without medical help.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery recommends seeing a doctor if you have:
- Severe and persistent sore throat that does not go away.
- Difficulty breathing, swallowing, or opening the mouth.
- Swelling of the face or neck.
- Temperature 38 ° C or higher.
- Blood in saliva or mucus.
- Lump in the throat.
- Hoarseness that lasts more than 2 weeks.
- Ear ache.
Sore throat: treatment
Treatment will depend on the cause of the symptom:
- Bacterial infection. In the case of a bacterial infection such as sore throat, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. It is very important to complete the full course, even if after a couple of days you will feel better.
- Viral infection. A sore throat caused by a viral infection usually goes away within 7 days and does not require medical treatment. Acetaminophen or mild painkillers can help reduce pain and fever.
A person with epiglottitis may need medical attention. In severe cases, intubation is performed. If the examination reveals a tumor or other serious cause, the doctor will discuss with the patient the appropriate treatment options.
Sore throat: alternative treatments
Here are tips to help ease your pain and get better soon:
- Have a lot of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your throat moist and prevent dehydration.
- Gargle with warm, salted water or apple cider vinegar.
- Use lozenges to soothe sore throat and cough.
Consuming warm fluids can ease discomfort. Pay attention to the following drinks:
- Warm water with lemon and honey.
- Ginger tea.
- Tea with licorice root.
Other alternative remedies for sore throat include:
- Elm red.
- Althea root.
- Garlic supplements.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin D.
Some of them may be useful due to possible anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is no scientific evidence that many of these treatments are effective or safe. However, a study published in 2017 concluded that clove, ginger, sage and echinacea extracts can actually reduce the inflammation that occurs with sore throat.
We recommend that you avoid unproven home remedies if you:
- Under the age of 18 years.
- You have certain health conditions.
Always consult your doctor before taking any alternative medicines to make sure they are safe to use and will not interact with other drugs.
Sore throat: prevention
Some simple steps will help prevent sore throat. To avoid germs that can cause pain:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after sneezing and coughing.
- Do not touch your nose or mouth.
- Do not share food, cutlery, or glasses.
- Cough and sneeze into napkins, throwing them away immediately and washing both hands.
- Avoid touching your public drinking fountains with your mouth.
- Avoid close contact with sick people and stay away from people if you are sick.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid smoking or being close to people who smoke.