Sore throats range from a mere scratch to pain so severe that even swallowing saliva hurts. They can be caused by heavy cigarette smoking and infections of the throat, tonsils or nasal passages from a virus, fungus, or bacteria such as the one that causes strep throat.
If an infection is the cause, your doctor may take a throat culture. If streptococcus or any other bacteria is the culprit, he or she will prescribe an antibiotic. Be sure you take all of the antibiotic.
If left untreated, serious complications, including abscesses, kidney inflammation, or rheumatic heart disease, could arise from a strep throat. An anti-fungal medicine is used to treat a fungal infection.
How to relieve sore throat discomfort:
- Gargle every few hours with a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water.
- Drink plenty of warm beverages, such as tea with lemon (with or without honey) and soup.
- For strep throat, eat and drink cold foods and liquids such as frozen yogurt, popsicles and ice water.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in the room where you spend most of your time.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid eating spicy foods.
- Suck on a piece of hard candy or medicated lozenge every so often. (Do not give to children under age 5).
- Take aspirin or acetaminophen for the pain or fever (or both). [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication containing salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger unless directed by a physician, due to its association with Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.]
- Do not get in close contact with anyone you know has a sore throat.
Questions to Ask
Is it very hard for you to breathe, are you unable to swallow your own saliva, or are you unable to say more than 3 or 4 words between breaths?
Do you have any of the following problems with the sore throat?
Do the tonsils or back of the throat look bright red or have visible pus deposits?
Does someone else in the family have a strep throat or do you get strep throat often?
Has even a mild sore throat lasted more than 2 weeks?
Healthy Self: The Guide to Self-Care and Wise Consumerism
© American Institute for Preventive Medicine