How to cure sore throat? If someone comes to you and says, oh I don’t feel well today, I am suffering from “Pharyngitis”. Don’t raise your eyebrow, trying to make sense out of this name and don’t be too appalled by the sound of it either. It just means that the person has a sore throat. There goes the first impression of “pharyngitis” which actually sounds like some scary disease at first.
We know how common sore throat is, don’t we? All of us have had experienced sore throat, at least once in our lifetime. Having a sore throat, once in a lifetime is an understatement, when in reality we complaint about sore throat every now and then.
Once we are encountered by sore throat, we ask ourselves a question ‘how to cure sore throat’ Delving more into the menace of sore throat, we often find ourselves asking many questions. The cascade of questions doesn’t stop easily and it goes on and on.
What is the best medicine for sore throat? Which medicines are used for throat pain? Do lozenges work?
Today, in addition to answering the million dollar question of “How to cure sore throat?”, we will talk of many other questions which surround our primary question.
What Is Sore Throat?
If we delve into the origination of “pharyngitis”, the name begins to make some sense. We know what our throat is, it is a tube which is carrying air into the larynx and the windpipe and food down into the esophagus. This tube performs vital functions for our survival and it is termed by medical experts as pharynx. Hence, when you have a sore throat; it is better termed as pharyngitis.
Sore throat is classified as an acute infection of upper respiratory tract which directly affects the respiratory mucosa present in the throat. It is a symptom aka collateral damage which can result from various diseases.
When you have a sore throat, the back end of your throat becomes swelled, which is the area between the voice box and the tonsils.
Due to this swelling, the person who has a sore throat begins to feel pain, irritation and discomfort. During this time, eating food becomes painful as with every time food or even a liquid moves down the throat, a sensation of scratchiness and its consequent pain is experienced.
But, keeping all of these details aside, we need to know “How to cure sore throat?” and “What is the best medication for sore throat?”
You might be wondering this as you get impatient to get your answers.
But, let’s learn about sore throat in detail and move towards the cure of sore throat in a step-wise manner.
So before, we look at how sore throat is treated; here are the infections and conditions which are commonly associated with sore throat.
According to BMJ Clinical Evidence, every year 10-30% people visit primary healthcare services with the complaint of sore throat. The underlying reasons of sore throat can be many, depending upon the causative agent involved.
Experts suggest that the primarily, sore throat is resulted from bacterial or viral pathogens however drawing a line between these causative agents and distinguishing them clinically is difficult.
Causes Of Sore Throat
The most common causes of sore throats are viruses. Viral sore throats are often accompanied by other cold symptoms that may include a runny nose, cough, red or watery eyes, and sneezing.
-Bacterial Throat Infection
It is common for a bacterial infection to give you a sore throat.
- Strep throat that is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes results in throat inflammation which consequently leads to sore throat. The infection also causes swelling or tenderness of the lymph glands present in the neck which may be accompanies by the appearing of white patches on the tonsils.
- According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in children strep throat more commonly cause sore throat in comparison with adults. Out of every 100 cases of sore throat in children, 20 to 30 cases are a result of strep throat infection. On the contrary, in the adults, only 5 to 10% cases of sore throat are directly associated with strep throat.
- Pertussis, which is more commonly known as whooping cough is caused by bacterial infection which affects the nose and throat. This infection manifests in symptoms which can include sore throat.
- Corynebacterium diphtheriae is a bacterial strain that causes an infection called diphtheria. Consequently, the infectious pathogens adhere to the lining of respiratory tract. Due to its poisonous effects, the bacterial strain damages the tissue of the respiratory system and, leading towards the formation of a thick layer of cellular debris which builds up in the nose and throat. The clogging of throat results in causing a sore throat.
People who suffer from sore throat as a result of GABHS or strep throat have a definitive set of symptoms that include pharyngeal swelling and erythema (redness and irritation patches), palatine petechiae (leakage of blood capillaries into the skin at the back of nasal cavity) , tonsillar exudate (cellular fluid leaking out from blood vessel) and anterior cervical lymphadenopathy (enlargement of cervical lymph nodes). The presence of these symptoms will be observed by your doctor to detect if the underlying cause is a bacterial infection or not.
The patient who visits a doctor for sore throat, caused by GABHS does not manifest cough, rhinorrhea (mucus filling up the nasal cavity) or conjunctivitis (inflammation of conjunctiva leading also known as pink eye).
When sore throat is accompanied by a bacterial infection called diphtheria, it is also manifested by the presence of inflammation of tonsils, nasal passages or/and pharynx and sometimes it is also accompanied by tender cervical diphtheria.
-Viral Sore Throat
The viruses invade lymph system which in turns causes tonsils to enlarge. These inflated tonsils may also develop white patches on their surface if the infections are severe.
- Influenza virus and common cold are commonly associated with giving you a sore throat.
- Rhinovirus, chickenpox, measles and mononucleosis can also leads towards giving you a sore throat.
Sore throat can take time to get better according to the severity of the infection; it may take one to four weeks to completely go. However, according to American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, mononucleosis can result in a persistent symptom of sore throat that can last for over a period of six weeks.
This is the most common cause of sore throat during the time of year when weather is changing. The symptoms of viral pharyngitis are manifested by low-degree fever, feeling fatigued, having pink eye, hoarseness in throat and coryza (inflammation of the mucous membrane of nose).
However, when viral pharyngitis is caused in children, additional symptoms are observed with include diarrhea, vomiting, mouth-breathing and abdominal pain.
When mononucleosis is the reason behind sore throat, the accompanied symptoms include feeling lethargic (malaise), fever and inflammation of lymph nodes in the posterior cervix (lymphadenopathy). In some cases, hepatosplenomegaly (swelling of spleen and liver) may also be present when sore throat is caused by a viral pathogen.
Causing an inflammation is the innate immune system’s to protect the body from invading pathogens. When a person’s immune system detects a foreign particle such as bacteria or virus in the body, inflammatory response is triggered to get rid of the pathogen and infected cells to help eliminate infection from the body.
Here are few inflammatory responses to viruses and bacteria that often lead towards causing sore throat.
- Tonsillitis, as the name suggests in the inflammation of tonsils which is often a response to viral infection, and rarely to a bacterial infection. While, this inflammation also manifests other symptoms, one salient feature is to cause a sore throat. Tonsillitis also leads causes swallowing in the lymph glands in the neck which can further aggravate sore throat.
- Epiglottitis is the inflammation of tissue flap at the back of the throat which can also cause sore throat, but it is a rare occurrence.
- Laryngitis is the inflammation of larynx which is often associated with a viral infection. This inflammation leaves the voice hoarse and cause sore throat.
–Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Widely known to us as heartburn, acid reflex takes places as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Now we talk of heartburn here as it has a direct link with causing sore throat in many people.
In this reflux disease, the muscle present at the end of the esophagus either doesn’t fully close or becomes loose, which results in the real trouble. As the muscle is not properly functioning, the acid from the stomach rises to leak into the esophagus. While this acid leakage causes heartburn, it also damages the esophagus which consequently causes sore throat.
This is a commonly associated with causing sore throat. Smoke, dust, smog, car exhaust fumes and other pollutants are making the air dirtier by day which in turn is leading towards many respiratory tract problems and sore throat is no exception. These toxic effects of the irritants can in fact lead towards chronic problem of sore throat for many people.
Dryness in the air is also another factor which can give you a sore throat. Inhaling dry air causes the back of your throat to feel scratchy and rough leading towards chronic nasal congestion consequently resulting in sore throat.
Some people are allergic to particular things in their environment. These allergies trigger an immune response against non-pathogenic substances, leading towards inflammation.
Often it is observed that people who had developed an allergic response to pollen grain, dust, pet dander and other similar substances are prone to having sore throat.
It is a condition when your nose and throat are producing mucus persistently. The building up and thickening of mucus is further led to draining at the back of throat which consequently cause coughing and sore throat. People who are prone to having allergies, influenza or sinusitis are found to suffer from sore throat caused primarily by postnasal drip.
How To Cure Sore Throat: Risk Factors For Sore Throat
Essentially anybody can have sore throat; however according to CDC there are some risk factors that increase an individual’s likelihood of suffering from sore throat.
- If you have large or irregularly shaped tonsils.
- If you are aged between 5 and 15 years
- Seasonal change of weather, particularly early spring and winter
- Having allergies
- Suffering from post-nasal drip (excessive mucus production from the glands in throat and nose)
- Suffering from acid reflux disease, gastroesopheagal reflux disease
- Catching a bacterial or viral infection of the throat from someone
- Cold air can cause throat irritation and be a trigger to sore throat
- Exposure to tobacco smoke
- Exposure to air pollution and chemical irritants
- Having a weak immunity
- Suffering a disease or taking medications that weakens immune system
Diagnosis Of Sore Throat
When you visit your doctor with a complaint of sore throat, your doctor runs a physical test and examines your throat with a torch. During this examination, your doctor will particularly look for inflated tonsils and any presence of white patches over the surface of tonsils. If your doctor finds need then he may swab the back of throat if the presence of strep throat is suspected. In case, a viral pathogen is suspected to be causing sore throat, then a blood test is likely to be run as well.
In other cases, throat culture tests may be ordered. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the following tests are carried out for finding out the accurate diagnosis for sore throat and the underlying cause:
- Throat culture: The sample is taken from the throat with a swab and cultured on a agar plate. The results are obtained within 24-48 hours and the test is highly accurate.
- Monospot test: This is a rapid slide agglutination test which is performed to look for the presence of mononucleosis.
- Rapid streptococcal antigen test/rapid antigen test: This is an in-office test which can give results within minutes In your doctor’s office. The test is carried on a throat swab which detects the presence of group A streptococcal carbohydrate.
Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS) which is the major bacterial strain leading towards sore throat contributes towards 15%-30% causes of sore throat in children and 5%-15% in adults. While other causes include viral infections, acid reflux, inflammation and pollution as mentioned earlier.
Thereby, it is important for the doctors to have run a differential diagnosis to learn about the causative agent behind sore throat.
Although sore throat is common and often doesn’t leave behind harmful effects on the health, but there still are times when the sore throat exacerbates and requires you to visit your doctor at your soonest.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, you should see your doctor, if the following symptoms arise during the time you suffer from sore throat.
- Joint Pain
- Facing difficulty in opening mouth
- Having difficulty in swallowing
- Having difficulty swallowing food
- Increasing severity of sore throat
- Sore throat that lasts longer than one week
- Having skin rash
- Having blood in sputum or saliva
- Observing a lump in neck
- Experiencing earache
- Having throat hoarseness that lasts longer than 2 weeks
- Having fever that exceeds 101oF
- Having recurrent occurrence of sore throat
Prevention Of Sore Throat
Prevention is better than cure, they had always said and we are no one to deny this. So here is how you can help yourself or the loved ones around you to stay away from sore throat.
- If you are around someone with sore throat, make sure you are sharing utensils with them, particularly cups, glasses and spoons.
- Dryness in the air can cause sore throat, you know this by now. So if you feel that the air in your room is dry, then invest in getting a humidifier for your room.
- Stay away from chemical irritants and particular the smoke of cigarette. We know it is tough, but you have got to give it a try.
- You know what triggers sore throat if you have developed allergies to something in past, so you should definitely stay away from allergens.
- Contrasting a bacterial or viral pathogen that leads to causing sore throat is quite possible so keep your surroundings clean. Focus on the cleanliness of your hands in particular.
- In seasons when people are commonly catching pathogens that cause sore throat, try to limit your contact with frequently touched surfaces particularly in public areas.
- Keeping drinking adequate amounts of fluids to avoid dehydration which can be a trigger for sore throat.
Sore Throat Treatment: How To Cure Sore Throat
Moving on to much awaited answers to the questions of “How to cure sore throat?” and “What are the most effective medicines for sore throat?”, we will discuss medications which can help you in the face of sore throat.
While, you should not be taking any of the following medications for sore throat by yourself without the consultation of your doctor, here is the list of commonly caused medicines for sore throat:
- NSAIDs Use: NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen help in reducing the pain that arises from having a sore throat. These NSAIDs begin to relief pain within the first 24 hours of use and often it is advised that these medications should be taken for 2-5 days.
- Antibiotics Use: If the causative agent for sore throat is a bacterium, then antibiotics are helpful in bring relieve. However if a viral strain is causing sore throat in the first place, then use of antibiotics is rendered useless.
Talking purely about the use of antibiotics for bacterial strain-caused sore throat, it is said that the symptoms begin to show a visible improvement by the 3rd day of antibiotic use.
It has been observed that people who test positive for the presence of Streptococcus strain respond better to these antibiotics. However, sometimes the use of antibiotics for treating sore throat can lead to some side effects such as headache, nausea, inflammation in vagina and rash.
If your doctor is certain that bacterial infection is the root cause of your sore throat, then you will be prescribed antibiotics which will help you completely of the bacteria which in turn will soothe your sore throat. The antibiotic therapy will be prescribed for up to 10 days which are strictly advised to be taken in the required dosage regularly.
However, if you stop to take the prescribed antibiotics as soon as you assume that your sore throat is relieved; you are to be blamed for any trouble faced in future. If sore throat caused by bacterial pathogen, is not treated till the very end, then you are prone to suffer from sore throat again that if caused by the similar pathogen, which had also treated till the time its growth was slowed down but not completely inhibited.
Furthermore, this increases your risk of developing sore throat again and the bacterial strain is likely to become resistant to the antibiotics, contributing to the global health problem of antibiotic resistance as identified by a study in JAMA.
- Corticosteroids: They help in reducing the pain severity and work best when taken with antibiotics.
If you are suffering from a viral infection then your doctor is likely to give you medications which relieve pain and nasal decongestants that provide relieve to the nasal congestion. Often, doctors
- Your doctor is likely to suggest you to take throat lozenges which will help soothe the throat scratchiness.
Treatment for Sore Throat caused by acid reflux: Primarily, in this case, sore throat is treated through the use of medication which helps to eliminate the underlying problem.
Medications are available which can help in reducing or neutralizing the stomach acid, which in turn facilitates to reduce heartburn and the resulting sore throat. Some of the medications are available over the counter, while others may require you to consult your doctor.
The majorly used classes of medications used include proton pump inhibitors, antacids and H2 blockers.
In addition to taking the medications for treating gastroesopheagal reflux disease (GERD), certain change in eating habits can also bring you some relieve. You should stay away from foods that are high in their fat content, spicy foods and acidic foods. You should take smaller portions of your meals and you should assure that the food items which cause you heartburn are not eaten.
How To Cure Sore Throat With Home Remedies
Since sore throat is a common condition, with time grannies and mommies have focused greatly upon formulating home remedies that can help relieve the discomfort and hoarseness accompanied by sore throat. No no no, we can’t dare to object and we totally are grateful to them for they have put things from the kitchen to work and help us get rid of the utterly annoying sore throat.
- Gargle with saline water to help yourself against the discomfort. Mix salt to lukewarm water and gargle few times a day until you feel better, the results are magical.
- Find edibles from your kitchen that can soothe the soreness of your throat. A combination of lemon with honey in shape of a green tea should definitely be tried by you. On one hand honey will soothe your throat pain and on the other hand lemon will provide you with the requires antioxidants and vitamin C. Lemon is also helpful in increasing the saliva production which in turns keep the mucous membranes moist to help reduce the hoarseness.
- Chamomile tea can help you in sore throat due to its various properties and health advantages. Not only can it help you with its immunity fortifying and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also provide relief by acting as a “endotracheal tube” lubricant.
- You can make use of herbs like sage or Echinacea to make a spray to soothe the scratchiness of your throat, as it carries anti-septic characteristics.
- Soups are good for you so ask mom to make them for you during this time of illness.
- Ginger carries antibacterial properties which particularly help in fighting off respiratory tract infections. So in this hard time, you should peel some gingers, cut them in matchsticks or make use of your julienne cutting style, boil them and drink up the tea
- If cold or influenza is causing your sore throat then cinnamon is for you. Its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties can give you some comfort.
- Herbal teas are for you, as they make swallowing easier by relieving pain, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
We hope you have now received the answer to your question “how to cure sore throat?” with a decent amount of related knowledge about the condition, in addition.