Understanding Sore Throat- The New Indian Express

Understanding Sore Throat- The New Indian Express

express news service

CHENNAI: Sore throat is a common condition characterized by a sore, dry, or itchy feeling in the throat. It is more frequent during the cold months. Although sore throats are uncomfortable, they often go away on their own.

Types
Tonsillitis: This is redness and swelling of the soft tissue at the back of the mouth, called the tonsil.
Pharyngitis: Pain and swelling in the throat is called pharyngitis.

Laryngitis: When there is swelling and redness of the larynx or larynx.

Causes
The most common reason for a sore throat is a cold or the flu. The common cold is less harmful and severe than the flu. Other reasons a sore throat may develop include:

Pollution: Smoking or chemicals such as aerosol sprays in the form of air fresheners can cause a sore throat. Poor air quality can also irritate the throat.

Allergies: Allergy-causing factors such as pollen, grass, pet dander (small pieces of skin shed by animals) can cause the immune system to release chemicals that cause sore throats.

Overuse: Repeated use of the voice box in a vigorous way, such as yelling or yelling, strains the vocal cords and throat muscles, leading to hoarseness and sore throat.

Strep throat and other bacterial infections: The most common bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. It causes infection of the throat and tonsils.

Symptoms
Symptoms may vary depending on the causative factor. It can feel
• Dry
• Scraper
• Fire
• Raw
• Tender
• Irritated

Along with the sore throat, other symptoms such as
• Runny nose
• Fever
• Cough
• Sneezing
• Headache
• Difficulty swallowing

Diagnosis
Diagnosis is a two-pronged process: a physical exam and a throat culture.

Physical exam: Your doctor may use a lighted instrument to examine your throat, ears, and nasal passages. The neck region can be gently palpated to rule out swollen glands (lymph nodes).
Throat culture: A throat culture is usually done if strep throat is suspected. For this, a swab is taken from the back of the throat and the collected sample is tested for strep throat bacteria. A rapid test usually gives the result in minutes. To confirm the diagnosis, the sample is sent to a laboratory.

Treatment
A sore throat caused by a viral infection usually lasts five to seven days. It usually does not require medical intervention. For symptoms associated with a sore throat, such as fever and pain, there are antipyretics (fever-reducing medications) and other mild pain relievers. However, if the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, a full course of antibiotics should be taken. The medicine should not be left in the middle even if the symptoms disappear. Non-compliance with the full course of antibiotics can lead to the development of rheumatic fever or severe kidney inflammation in children.

Prevention
Although it is not always possible to prevent the development of a sore throat, it can be prevented by following certain measures.
• Regular handwashing with soap and water.
• Avoid close contact with people who have respiratory problems, such as colds and sore throats.
• Give up smoking.
• Stay away from passive smoking and air pollution.

When should you see a doctor?
Sore throats caused by a viral infection usually get better on their own within a week. However, in some cases, a sore throat needs to be treated if it has severe symptoms. Some serious repercussions are:
• Difficulty swallowing.
• Neck pain or stiffness.
• Difficulty opening the mouth.
• Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Presence of blood in saliva or phlegm.
• Sore throat that lasts more than a week.

Frequent questions

Why does our throat hurt?
Sore throats are often part of a cold that is accompanied by fever, runny nose, and cough. It is also a sign of a bacterial infection of the throat, such as strep throat. It can also manifest as a symptom of an underlying disease such as sinusitis. Various factors such as smoking, allergies, and voice overstrain can also cause a sore throat.

Can a sore throat be treated with antibiotics? Bacterial sore throats can be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections that cause sore throats.

What is the difference between a viral throat infection and a bacterial throat infection?
Viral throat infections occur due to various viruses entering the body and attacking the throat region. Some examples are the common cold and the flu. On the other hand, a bacterial infection develops due to person-to-person contact. It can be transmitted through saliva when kissing or sneezing. Although viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Can a sore throat be treated at home?
In most cases, the sore throat goes away without the need for any treatment or by following some home remedies. Some of these home remedies include:
• Gargle with warm water to which half a teaspoon of salt has been added.
• Drink warm liquids such as soups and hot tea with honey.
• Sucking on a pill.
• Rest your voice until your throat seems to improve.
The author is a consultant to the Department of Internal Medicine, Critical Care and Diabetology.

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