A sore throat is one of those painful conditions that pay frequent visits and can hit you at any time. Screamed a little too loud during the baseball game? You have a sore throat the next morning. Got a cold? There comes another sore throat. Whatever the cause, you will agree that it’s really painful, irritating and causes a lot of discomfort. Once you have it, your entire day is ruined.
But, a sore throat is easily treatable with a few home remedies, medications and proper rest. While it is true that a sore throat goes away within a few days, if it stays for long, it may be something serious. This is why it is important that you know what a sore throat is. So, let’s take a look into the basic points that will help you identify a sore throat and incorporate the necessary relieving methods to get rid of it as soon as possible.
What is a Sore Throat?
Before you get into any other details, take the time to understand what exactly is a sore throat. It’s the first step towards identifying if you have one or not.
If you talk about commonality, a sore throat takes the crown. As soon as the winters or autumns kick in, you know that it’s the season of allergies, colds and sore throats. It starts with a tickle in the back of your throat that’s persistent for a few days. You may feel it getting dry, prickly or uncomfortable every time you swallow food or drink. In some cases, eating may worsen the pain of the soreness. If you can relate to this feeling, it’s more than likely that you have a sore throat.
So, do you have a dry, itchy and irritating feeling in your throat? If yes, then you have a sore throat. Don’t worry, as we’ve already discussed, it is a very common condition among people and usually gets better on its own. So much so that only 4 percent of all people suffering from it visit a family medicine practitioner.
Symptoms of a sore throat
The symptoms for a sore throat can vary from one person to another. It can depend on their lifestyle, body and of course the cause of the condition. But if you look at the general symptoms, here’s what you can expect from a sore throat.
- Scratchiness, irritation or prickly sensation in the back of the throat.
- Slight discomfort while swallowing.
- Visibly inflamed tonsils.
- Mild swollenness of the jaw and neck glands.
- Change in voice. It usually gets hoarse or muffled.
- Visible white spots on or around the tonsils.
- Burning sensation in the throat.
- Tenderness around the neck.
You may have a sore throat if your symptoms match with the ones on the list. However, you must remember that the symptoms are not limited to the ones included here. You must contact a professional to get the right diagnosis.
The symptoms of sore throat are usually tolerable that subside after a few days. However, if the condition gets severe and symptoms become intolerable, it’s a sign of something more serious than a common sore throat.
Common Causes of a Sore Throat
A sore throat can occur on its own or come along with some other infection as well. Let’s take a look at the common causes of a sore throat.
Viral infection: If you catch a common virus like the common cold, measles, influenza or croup, the symptoms of the condition may include a sore throat as well. Currently, sore throat is also a symptom of COVID-19. So, if you feel that your condition resembles that of the novel coronavirus, consult a medical professional immediately.
Allergies: In the season of allergies, there are a lot of irritants like mold, pollen etc, that may flare up the allergies including a sore throat.
Bacteria: Though not very usual but a sore throat can also be a result of a bacterial infection. The most common bacteria responsible for a sore throat is GABHS. It requires immediate medical attention.
Environmental Factors: A sore throat can develop if you are continuously exposed to dry air or are breathing through your nose due to nasal congestion. Also, if you have been screaming the day before, the excessive stress from yelling may cause a sore throat too.
Tips to Relieve a Sore Throat
The good news about having a sore throat is that it can be relieved by using a few tips and tricks. So, while resting at home, you can follow these home remedies to reduce the symptoms and help heal a sore throat.
- Have as much fluid as you can. Hot or cold, fluids help ease the swelling and soothe the pain. Also, they keep your throat hydrated to avoid any scratchy feeling. Both hot and cold beverages can do wonders for a sore throat.
- Gargles are a tried and tested method for easing a painful throat. It’s an effective way of removing the irritants and soothing the inflammation. And if you also have a blocked nose, gargling can help loosen the mucus and relieve congestion. Use some warm salt water to gargle twice a day until the symptoms subside.
- Keep a humidifier around you. It will humidify the air and help prevent the dryness and itchiness in the throat. Hot steam can also help achieve the same purpose.
- Get enough sleep. Your immune system works the best against infections when you are asleep. So, take enough rest to get better soon.
When to See a Doctor?
Most of the causes of a sore throat are treatable at home. With some rest and the tips that I have mentioned above, you can be free from one in no time. However, a sore throat may develop into intolerable symptoms or something serious too. It’s uncommon but very probable. Especially today, when the world is dealing with a pandemic whose symptoms include having a sore throat, even a normal cause can trigger anxiety and suspicion. So, for everyone who has a sore throat, it is very crucial that they learn when to shift from home remedies and therapies to a medical professional. Here are a few red flags that indicate that it’s time to see a doctor.
- If a sore throat lasts more than a week.
- A fever of 101 degrees or more.
- If the fever lasts for more than two days.
- Excessive swelling of the tonsils that makes swallowing severely painful.
- The appearance of a red rash.
- Earache, joint pain or difficulty in opening the mouth.
Get in touch with your family physician or local doctor. They can help you with a proper diagnosis. If you are wary of leaving the safety of your home and being around people as a safety precaution for COVID-19, you can still get the best treatment for sore throat using telemedicine. Just reach out to a clinic you can trust and they will connect you with a trained medical professional from the comfort of your home. The doctor will consult you through the screen of your laptop or phone and plan out a personalized treatment for you. No contact, no exposure, just a perfect solution to your medical needs.