Sore, Scratchy Throats Often Just Need The Right TLC

Weber HSDAYTON, Ohio (February 12, 2018) – Nearly everyone has suffered from a sore, scratchy throat at one time or another – the kind that makes it difficult to talk or uncomfortable to swallow.

More than likely, it was a sign that something else was going on in the body, whether it’s fighting an infection or reacting to environmental changes such as allergies. A sore throat may be a minor inconvenience but can hold enough power to make a day miserable.

The severity of a sore throat, how long it lasts, and the presence of other symptoms can help a person determine its cause. Usually, a mild sore throat is the result of a viral infection such as a coldor the flu, which in most cases will go away over time as the body heals. But there’s also times when a sore throat can signal something more serious.

“A person’s symptoms help us determine the cause of a sore throat,” said Paul Weber, MD, a pediatrician with The Pediatric Group. “Things like tonsillitis or laryngitis cause inflammation in the throat tissue whereas a cold or allergies may just cause irritation.”

Symptoms such as swelling in the neck, difficulty breathing or turning one’s head, inability to swallow or unexplained drooling should all be immediately evaluated by a healthcare provider, said Dr. Weber, who practices with Premier Physician Network.

“More often than not, sore throats are caused by viruses, and will go away over time,” Dr. Weber said. “It can also be caused by a bacteria, such as with strep throat. In that case, the pain is more intense and persistent, and usually requires an antibiotic.”

Dr. Weber said the standard of care for strep throat should always include a swab test that can verify the presence of the bacteria even if the throat appears to have the infection. This ensures that an antibiotic is actually needed instead of prescribing the medication and running the risk of antibacterial resistance in the patient down the road.

Meanwhile, sore throats that are mild in nature or can be tied to an existing illness, such as a cold or the flu, can easily be cared for at home. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests the following steps:

Keep it moist – Dry air can agitate a sore throat and make it worse. Adults should consider using lozenges to activate saliva in the mouth. Children should be given cold liquids to drink or even a Popsicle to suck on. Consider using a humidifier in your bedroom or as an attachment to your furnace when available. This will allow moisture to circulate the air especially during the night when sleeping can cause the throat to become dry.

Dull the pain – Sometimes sore throats can come with a nagging or sharp pain that makes it difficult to swallow. Gargle with warm salt water or suck on ice chips to soothe the discomfort. Over-the-counter throat sprays can also help numb the pain for a period of time. Medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to help alleviate pain and swelling.

Treat the source – Sore throats that are a result of sinus drainage or allergies issues can usually be remedied by treating the root cause. Ask a doctor about nasal sprays or over-the-counter allergy medications that help alleviate allergy symptoms.

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