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Ask The Expert


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Everything you need to know about Sore Throats
 

There is nothing worse than the nagging feel at the back of one’s mouth cavity when a sore throat is about to hit! When left to its own devises, the nagging feel begins to increase in severity turning into a more pronounced scratchy, irritated and overall unpleasant feeling which is often intensified upon swallowing.

A sore throat can be referred to as Pharyngitis as these two terms mean one-and-the-same and can be the result of a host of factors. In essence, the pain one may encounter when they have a sore throat is usually caused by swelling and inflammation at the back of the throat (pharynx area). This area is located between the tonsils and larynx (voice-box) which is why one can experience a loss of voice or swollen tonsils with a sore throat.

The main culprits behind the development of a sore throat are viral and bacterial infections, cold and flu’s. Strep throat, which is a common condition causing an inflammation of the throat, is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus, whereas mononucleosis is caused by various other viruses.

A sore throat, due to it being spread by a virus or bacteria is often very contagious and you may find that if one family member starts to develop it, the rest are sure to follow. It is also more common for one to develop a sore throat during the colder fall and winter months.

Other causes of a sore throat can include constant mouth breathing as this can lead to the development of a dry tongue and throat making ones throat feel parched and dehydrated, the constant drainage of mucus down the back of the throat (post nasal drip), a Candida or Yeast Infection and the administration of certain medications such as those used in chemotherapy.

Poor habits such as smoking, drinking large amounts of alcohol or living in areas which contain large amounts of pollution can lead to a sore throat. Any excessive use of the voice can also lead to a sore, scratchy throat.

On a more serious, however less common note, a sore throat may be a result of malignant or cancerous growths developing in the oral cavity or throat.

What are the Symptoms of a Sore Throat?
 

The most noticeable symptom one will develop will be a sore, burning, scratchy throat that intensifies upon swallowing.

Other associated symptoms can include:

  • An increase in body temperature
  • Muscle aches or headaches
  • A swelling of one or more of the body lymph nodes.
  • An over feeling of tiredness or fatigue
  • In severe cases, pus filled vesicles may develop in the throat.
  • A runny nose with sneezing and coughing
  • A loss of voice or hoarseness
  • Pain may be experienced in the ear area if the infection has spread to this area via the Eustachian tube.

Diagnosing a Sore Throat:

Other than the actual feeling one experiences when suffering with a sore throat the other way to diagnose this condition is to visit your General Practitioner or Doctor. He or she will use a tongue depressor and otoscope to look at the tissues located at the back of your throat. If these appear inflamed, red or “angry” in nature a confirmed diagnosis will be made and an appropriate treatment recommended to assist in killing any unwanted bacteria.

Sore throats caused by viral infections are however more difficult to treat with medications as viruses are not killed with antibiotics.

It is important for one to determine if they have Strep Throat (a sore throat caused by the streptococcus bacterium) earlier on in diagnosis as this condition can lead to more serious complications (such as rheumatic fever, damage to the heart or kidneys and acute nephritis) if not treated from the onset.

What Treatment can I take for my Sore Throat?
 

Viruses and bacteria are the main causes behind sore throats. Whereas Bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, they offer little or no treatment to sore throats caused by viruses.

There is however a few things one can do to help alleviate and soothe a sore throat:

  • Gargle in warm salt water regularly
  • One can also gargle with antibiotic mouth washes to help treat any throat infections topically.
  • There are numerous cough lozenges one can take to soothe the scratchy feeling at the back of the throat.
  • A humidifier placed in the room can help moisten breathing air making it less dry for the throat.
  • Drink warm liquids and even warm lemon water with a teaspoon of honey to soothe the throat.
  • A suitable painkiller may be taken to help ease the discomfort associated with a sore throat.
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What can happen if I do not treat my Sore Throat?

If a sore throat is left untreated it can lead to the development of nasal congestion, an increase in nasal mucus production, sinusitis (a sinus infection) or the development of abscesses or blisters around the throat and tonsil area (aphthous stomatitis).

When is it important to visit a Doctor or General Practitioner?

It is recommended your visit your Doctor or Health Care Provider if your sore throat has not gone away after a couple of days or if you have experienced a high fever which does not go down and accompanying swollen lymph nodes. It is also recommended for one to visit his or her GP should any difficulty swallowing or drooling be experienced.

 
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