A sore throat is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. A Sore throat often makes it painful to swallow.
Viral infections are the most common cause of Sore throats. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections. A Sore throat often begins at the start of a cold. In many cases, a sore throat is the first sign that you are getting sick. When the nose or sinuses become infected, drainage can run down the back of the throat and irritate it, especially at night. Or, the throat itself can be infected.
Different types of infections that often begin with a Sore throat include;
- Glandular fever (Epstein-Barr virus)
- Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils at the back of the mouth. Symptoms are similar to a sore throat, but may be more severe e.g high fever. 'Strep throat' is so named because the bacteria known as streptococcus can be a possible cause of infection in cases of tonsillitis.
- Croup a common childhood illness characterized by a harsh, barking cough.
Causes of Sore throat that are not a result of infection include;
- Breathing through the mouth.
- Allergies such as Hayfever.
- Pollution and cigarette smoke.
- Muscle strain from yelling.
- Acid reflux
- Tumours. Smoking or alcohol abuse increases the risk of tumours of the throat, tongue and voice box. In some people these tumours cause few, if any, signs and symptoms. In others, they can lead to hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and Sore throat.
Signs and Symptoms
Soreness in the throat may be the only symptom. In addition, you may also have a hoarse voice, mild cough, fever, headache, feel sick, feel tired, and the glands in your neck may swell. It may be painful to swallow. The soreness typically worsens over 2 to 3 days and then gradually improves within a week.
Signs that a Sore throat may have a more serious underlying cause, such as tonsillitis, include;
- White patches or pus on your throat or tonsils
- Inability to swallow
- A Sore throat that does not improve on its own or keeps coming back
- Skin rash
- Severe throat pain
- Swollen, red tonsils
- A high fever
Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.
- Most Sore throats clear up within 3 to 7 days. If it persists longer than this, or recurs often, see your Doctor.
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen can usually relieve the symptoms of a Sore throat.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed for a bacterial Sore throat such as tonsillitis although there is no evidence that they are any more effective than paracetamol. Antibiotics will not be effective against a viral infection.
- If the patient finds it difficult to breathe, cannot swallow to the extent that drooling occurs, or becomes cyanosed (bluish tinge around lips and fingernails) call an ambulance immediately as the airway may be constricted.
- Eat foods that are highly nutritious and easy to swallow, to help build up the immune system for the body to fight off any possible infection.
- The patient may refuse all solid foods due to the pain of swallowing. Offer filtered water (6 to 8 glasses a day), and fruit and vegetable juices diluted with water 50-50. This will provide the patient with adequate nutrition in the short term. Herbal teas (especially raspberry or sage) can also be drunk during the day.
- Offer foods that are soothing and easy to swallow such as soups and broths, jelly, custard and pureed fruits. A peeled, frozen banana is a good choice for children.
- It is best to avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat; they are often low in other nutrients. Try to eat more fresh fruits and plenty of vegetables.
Low levels of antioxidant nutrients such as beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C have been detected in children suffering from recurrent tonsillitis infections. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants. Consider a nutritional supplement if the diet is inadequate.
Ask your Wizard Naturopath for advice;
- If the Sore Throat is the result of an infection, the patient should be encouraged to rest to help the body recover.
- Ask your Naturopath about herbal antiseptic gargles to help fight any infection that may be present. These may contain herbs such as thyme, golden seal, echinacea, garlic etc.
- A range of soothing throat lozenges are available from your Pharmacy to ease the irritation of a Sore Throat. Lozenges containing zinc may be helpful in healing a Sore Throat by assisting the body's own immune system to fight the infection.
- The patient should be encouraged to have plenty of low sugar fluids during the day e.g. water and fruit and vegetable juices. Adding the juice of half a lemon and half a teaspoon of honey to a cup of hot water makes a soothing, warm drink which may assist to relieve the pain of a Sore Throat.
- Ask your Naturopath about vitamin supplements which may help to boost the immune system if the diet is inadequate. Acidophilus capsules or powder may be useful for people with a Sore Throat which is caused by a fungal infection. Under certain conditions the body's 'good bacteria', which keeps naturally occurring yeast under control, is reduced e.g. after repeated use of antibiotics or chronic illness. This can allow fungus infections to develop. Acidophilus is a part of the good bacteria of the body and helps to restore a healthy balance reducing the development of fungus.
- Garlic (available as fresh bulbs to add to cooking or as odourless tablets or capsules) is also thought to have properties which help restore balanced gut flora and boost the immune system.
- Propolis may be suggested by your Naturopath in the form of tablets or a liquid tincture to help protect the mouth and throat from irritation and for its ability to help destroy certain harmful germs.
- Vitamins A, C and E are thought to have antioxidant activities to help assist the immune system to combat any infection that may be the cause of a Sore Throat.
- Supplements combining horseradish, garlic and vitamin C may be useful in helping to dry up the mucus which can drip down the back of the throat when a person has a sinus infection or allergy resulting in a Sore Throat.
Ask your Wizard Pharmacist for advice;
- Ask your Pharmacist whether a visit to a Doctor is indicated.
- Ask your Pharmacist for suggestions on the best way to recover from and ease the pain of a Sore Throat.
- An antiseptic spray or gargle may be recommended to ease the symptoms of a Sore Throat. These are not recommended for children.
- A wide range of medicated throat lozenges are available from your pharmacy to help soothe the irritation of a Sore Throat and ease the pain of swallowing. These are not recommended for children.
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen can usually relieve the symptoms of a Sore throat. Remember that aspirin should not be given to children under 16.
- A vitamin supplement may be of benefit if dietary intake is inadequate.
- Propolis is a natural, resin-like substance obtained from bee hives and contains bee-products. Propolis has antimicrobial properties and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect. A spray or gargle containing propolis may help to alleviate sore throat.
Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a Doctor.