What is a sore throat and what can you do to curb it

A sore throat is not a disease in itself, but a common symptom of a viral or bacterial infection. Often, it presents as a painful sensation that can make it hard for you to talk and swallow.

Myupchar August 29, 2019 17:12:23 IST
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What is a sore throat and what can you do to curb it
  • A sore throat is not a disease in itself, but a common symptom of a viral or bacterial infection

  • Depending on which part of the throat is affected, someone with a bad throat could have pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx), laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box) or tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils)

  • Research shows that 90% of viral infections (for example, the flu) are accompanied by a sore throat

Pleasant as it can be, the rainy season also drags in a host of infections: a sore throat is arguably its most common downside. Data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that every year nearly 13 million Americans go to see a doctor for a sore throat.

There are over 200 bacteria and viruses that can give you a sore throat. Of these, group A Streptococcus bacteria is one of the most common in India - it is responsible for 11-34% of cases.

What is a sore throat and what can you do to curb it

Representational image. Getty images

Whatever the cause, a sore throat is a nuisance at best and a red flag for an underlying health condition at worst. Here’s a quick look at what it is, and what to do about it.

What is a sore throat?

A sore throat is not a disease in itself, but a common symptom of a viral or bacterial infection. Often, it presents as a painful sensation that can make it hard for you to talk and swallow.

If you have a sore throat may also experience scratchiness, dryness and a tickling sensation in the throat.

Depending on which part of the throat is affected, someone with a bad throat could have pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx), laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box) or tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils).

“A sore throat is most common in children as their immune system is weak. Still, there are many reasons why grown-ups get itchy, scratchy, painful throats in the rainy season and during the winter months,” said Dr Archana Nirula, a senior medical officer at myupchar.com. “Air pollution, allergies and poor immunity also make us more susceptible,” she added.

Research shows that 90% of viral infections (for example, the flu) are accompanied by a sore throat. Strep throat, or infection by streptococcus bacteria, is also quite common - it’s the cause in almost 40% throat infections in children.

Usually, a doctor can tell the reason for a sore throat just by examining the patient's throat and medical history. In some cases, they may recommend a throat culture or sputum culture to test for strep throat.

Medicines and home remedies

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic drugs based on penicillin or amoxicillin for bacterial infection - this should provide relief from the sore throat, too. For viral-induced sore throat, your doctor may prescribe antivirals like amantadine and rimantidine, which will also help to relieve the throat tickle. Over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Motrin can provide symptomatic relief for the throat.

It’s important to check with your doctor before taking any medicines - sometimes the wrong medicine can make a simple infection more complicated.

Home remedies like salt-water gargles, honey-ginger syrups and sipping on hot chamomile tea can also help to relieve the soreness in your throat.

Get well soon

Most of the time, a sore throat gets better on its own. Visit your doctor if it persists for more than two weeks, or if it is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, high fever, earache, and rashes.

A sore throat is usually not a serious condition. However, if it persists, it may disturb your sleep - this can have a domino effect on your health and immunity. So, gargle with warm water, stay hydrated, use humidifiers, and enjoy the monsoon while it lasts.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/sore-throat

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