Inflammation of the throat which produces pain or itching. Sometimes it is accompanied by a tonsillitis or inflammation or the tonsils
Symptoms of sore throat
The most important symptoms are: Sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen glands, white patches, fever, loss of voice, throat pain, throat itching, tonsillitis, nasal congestion, muscle pain, join discomfort, etc.
Causes of sore throat
- Viral causes: Most cases of sore throat are generally produce by viruses or bacteria. Among the more common causes producing sore throat we can point out the following:
- Strep throat: Is the most common bacterial cause that produces sore throat. Caused by Streptococcus, it affects mainly boys or girls between 5 and 15, producing such as typical symptoms of sore throat as swallowing problems; red throat sometimes accompanied with white, purulent patches; loss of appetite; swollen glands; nasal congestion, muscle pain, join discomfort, etc.
- Pharyngitis. Pharyngitis. produced by viral causes are responsible for sore throat.
- Bacterial tonsillitis
- The " Kissing disease" viruses (Infectious mononucleosis)
- Allergic causes : Breathing some particles, as dust or plant pollen, may produce an allergic reaction to some people that w¡ll manifest in a series of symptoms, including sore throat. Allergic rhinitis is a common cause of an allergic disease which produces sore throat.
- Erosive causes : Sore sore throat cases are produced by the erosion of the mucosa covering the throat. For example, when swallowing some food of object which gets hooked in the throat. Some medical intervention affecting the the throat, such as being subjected to surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) or as a result of medical intubation (endotracheal intubation)
Alcohol, carbonated beverages and tobacco can be erosive causes producing sore throat. Some other reasons are too abusive use of vocal cords in people like singers, teachers, speakers, etc or the habit of drinking too hot drinks or eating too hot food.
- Weather causes: Dry and cold weather are responsible for many cases of sore throat. This type of atmosphere attacks the throat mucosa which produces its irritation.
Prevention of sore throat
The best way to avoid sore throat is to prevent it from happening. The following tips can be very useful in this sense:
- Maintain good hand hygiene: Hand contact with mouth, nose or eyes is one of the most likely forms of contagion. This can also take place in a direct way through the food we eat. A proper washing with soap and water before handling food and before eating is a good way to prevent microorganisms from entering our body.
This advice is especially necessary whenever someone returns home, especially when living in large cities where situations for contagion are more likely to appear. (Touching stair railings, doorknobs, handles on subways or buses, telephones, etc.).
- Avoid confined spaces where there are many people: In these places the risk of infection is much larger. For example, walking on foot to work whenever possible, instead of taking the bus or subway, avoid the department stores , the crowds, etc.
- Dress appropriately: A proper clothing for a specific place is the best way to avoid chill which gives the throat the appropriate conditions to become irritated. It is very convenient to keep oneself warm when being in the street. Don't forget to protect especially the throat and head with scarves and caps if the environment conditions require it.
- Maintain the appropriate environmental moisture: A dry environment is the best way to provide the respiratory mucous the appropriate place for development of microorganisms. Using a humidifier or vaporizer during the winter, especially in places with heating, is a good way to increase humidity and keep the nasal passages free from drying.
Another good way to keep moisture better is to eat plenty of fluids, by means of of water juice, fruit juice or liquid form of vegetables, especially those that are rich in vitamin C or antioxidants.
- Quit smoking: Tobacco facilitates sore throat by lowering the body's defenses and irritating throat mucous. . Numerous studies have shown that smokers are twice as likely to get a cold than those who do not smoke. Avoid places where smoking is permitted, because passive smokers are also more likely to become infected.
Is it recommended to remove your tonsils for sore throat prevention?
Although this was the usual treatment in the past, it is no longer recommended in most circumnstances to remove tonsil in order to prevent sore throat.
Tonsils are meant to protect against many infections, so they must only be removed when the doctor considers removing them will be more convenient that the benefits of maintaining them. For example, too many frequent infections, tonsils abscesses or breathing difficulty
When to visit a doctor ?
Some home treatments can be sufficient to alleviate sore throat without being necessary to go to a doctor. (Consult " Remedies for sore throat" in the listing above)
You should go to the doctor whenever fever over 38 ºC appear, when breathing or swallowing has become very difficult, in case you appreciate throat pus, body red rashes or swollen glands in the neck.
Moreover, young children should also visit the doctor in the following cases:
- Pains last for more than 2 or 3 days.
- A child doesn't want to drink.
- Children voice is affected.
Treatment of sore throat. Are antibiotics useful for sore throat?
In most cases you should not take any antibiotics, since they are not useful against virus. A viral disease must be cured by itself , which in the case of this type of diseases can take about 7 or 10 days. The usual medical treatment of sore throat implies the use of analgesics and antiinflamatories.
Medical treatment with antibiotics will only be necessary in some cases that must be previously tested and positively proved by means of lab tests (Throat swab culture, streptococcal screen, etc)
This is the case of sore throat produced by confirmed strep throat. Antibiotics are administered in order to prevent possible complications as rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, etc. . Bacterial inflammation of tonsils (tonsillitis) may also require antibiotics. In case of viral tonsillitis antibiotics are not effective.
Sore throat produced by allergies will require a specific treatment for allergy. Infectious mononucleosis has not a a specific medical treatment. Resting at home and taking analgesics to relieve its symptoms will be sufficient.
The natural treatment of sore throat involves using a series of natural resources which will increase the immune function and will help relieve the symptoms of this disease.