Sore throat / pharyngitis is an inflammation of throat caused by a viral infection and often develops with a cold or the flu. It’s a common disorder of the throat and can occur at any time during any season. The main indication of a sore throat is pain when swallowing and sometimes a burning sensation and tightness in the throat.
Symptoms of a Sore Throat
Am I having a sore throat? Some or all of the following symptom would indicate you have sore throat:
- A dry, scratchy or swollen throat
- Irritation of throat, pain when swallowing, breathing or talking
- Headache with swollen lymph gland
- Tendency to hawk, ham and suppressed voice and possible pain in the ears
- Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck and bad breath (halitosis)
- More generic symptoms including coughing, sneezing, hoarseness or laryngitis, runny nose, mild fever, fatigue
What causes Sore Throat
Now that you almost know it’s sore throat, here’s what might have caused it.
A sore throat can have many causes including:
- Diseases: Common cold, Influenza, Diphtheria, Fever, Sinusitis, Measles
- Viral infection – viral sore throat is usually accompanied by a running nose, fever and achy muscles.
- Throat infection
- Bacterial infection – headaches, stomach pains and swollen glands last longer, and may get worse with time.
- Mononucleosis and the flu viruses can produce blisters in the mouth
- Sometimes sore throat can appear after treatment with antibiotics, chemotherapy, or other immune-compromising medications. Probably by Candida, otherwise known as ‘thrush’
- Respiratory infection, infectious mononucleosis
- Breathing through the mouth or smoking, drinking alcohol, hay fever and other allergies can produce throat dryness and soreness.
- Sinus drainage (post nasal drip) and upper respiratory tract infection
- The Epstein-Barr virus – which causes glandular fever and glandular fever tonsillitis.
- Streptococcus and Arcanobacterium haemolyticum – Arcanobacterium causes sore throats mainly in young adults
Home remedies for Sore Throat
Success relies on really treating the symptoms of the infection, and NOT the infection itself.
- Take enough rest. Avoid straining your throat by excessive talking, especially talking loudly.
- Taking lots of warm fluids will also help to keep you hydrated as well as prevent irritation of the throat. When you have a sore throat, dryness will only increase the irritation. Hydration is also important for the body to heal itself.
- Gargling relieves the irritation and inflammation. Gargle more than three times a day with one teaspoon salt dissolved in one glass of water. It eases the pain/scorching feeling in the throat. It improves the circulation around the throat area and cleans the pharynx, thus enabling your immune system to be more potent.
- If available, gargle with Aloe Vera juice, Raspberry tea (in fever), Sage, Turmeric etc. Do not swallow any of the liquids you use for gargling. (Sage is beneficial in treating pharyngitis and other throat pains by reducing inflammation and protecting the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat.)
- Warm humid atmosphere is helpful in soothing a sore throat.
- Cider vinegar can be taken with a little honey and warm water. You may also use it for gargling by replacing the honey with some salt. Note that this drink should never be given to children below two years as honey is said to cause food poisoning in small children.
- Throat lozenges can also be used without prescription and they soothe sore throat. Saline nasal drip is recommended if you have nasal blockage. Lozenges and nasal decongestants are especially relieving for your nasal passage.
- Put ginger in a glass of hot water, wait 5-10 minutes and drink. Repeat several times a day.
- Avoid smoking (passive smoking as well). Smoking increases the irritation of your throat and slows down the healing
- Mixing honey and lemon (oranges and other citric fruits) in a warm glass of water and having it after every hour can be very effective for a sore throat.
- Steaming helps a lot. Get a bowl of steaming hot water and cover your head with a towel while your face is above the bowl to inhale the steam.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic and helps speed up recovery and removal of bacteria
- Herbal green tea is one of the best sore throat remedies.
- WARNING: Discard your Toothbrush once you get rid of the sore throat. It can potentially give you the sore throat again.
- Water boiled with basil leaves should be taken as a drink, and also used as a gargle to relieve a sore throat.
- Coarsely powdered cinnamon added to a glass of water along with two tablespoons of honey and a pinch of ground pepper and then boiled – can be taken as a medicated drink.
Prevention is better than Cure
Keep your chest covered with a warm jacket or a muffler in winters so that you are able to breathe properly during flu and sore throat. Avoid smoking. Smoking aggravates the itching in your throat and so your cough gets worse no matter what remedy you try. In a cold climate, insufficient warm clothes can make your body spend a lot more energy in keeping you warm and so your immune system does not get to work that efficiently.
Avoid fried or cold foods, very cold drinks and anything sour as they can aggravate a sore throat. As always, never wait too long if the symptoms don’t show a sign of declining. Consult a doctor.