Sore throats are a common health complaint. They’re experienced by millions of people around the world every year. But what causes sore throats, and how can they we treat them?
What Causes a Sore Throat?
There are various causes of sore throats. These can relate to medical issues, like infections or viruses. Sore throats can also by a smyptom of other medical problems, such as mouth ulcers. They can also relate to lifestyle choices, such as smoking.
Viruses are probably the most common cause of sore throats. Viruses are the cause of the common cold, which often results in a sore throat. Other seasonal illnesses like flu are also caused by viruses.
Sometimes a sore throat can be caused by bacteria. Strep Throat is a condition caused by group A Streptacoccus. Strep Throat can be very painful, causing the throat to feel extremely sore. Fortunately it is not common and only accounts for a small proportion of sore throats.
Laryngitis is when your vocal chords or voice box in your throat become swollen or irritated. It can result in a croaky or lost voice, a bad cough and a sore throat. Laryngitis normally goes away by itself after a week or two. It’s often linked with other illnesses, such as colds or flu.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils at the back of your throat. It’s common amongst children but teenagers and adults can also suffer with it. The main symptoms are a sore throat, problems swallowing, a high temperature, headaches and lethargy. Tonsillitis is normally short-lived, lasting perhaps 5 days to a week.
Regular smokers can also suffer with sore throats. These are generally caused by the hot dry smoke irritating the sensitive skin of the mouth and throat. Toxins in the smoke can further add to the irritation.
Mouth Ulcers & Inflammation
Another common cause of sore throats is mouth ulcers and the resultant inflammation. An ulcer can be very uncomfortable – particularly if located at the back of the mouth or in the throat. The inflammation caused can make swallowing difficult and painful.
How Can You Treat a Sore Throat?
As we’ve seen, a sore throat often clears up by itself after a few days. But there are plenty of things you can do to treat your sore throat, reducing the pain and speeding up recovery.
Drink Plenty of Water
Keeping your body hydrated is important. Drink plenty of water. This will also help keep your mouth and throat lubricated, which in turn reduces the pain and discomfort.
A well-rested body is better able to defend itself against viruses and bacteria. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. You may find that supporting your head with an extra pillow can help improve your sleep. Be aware that during the night you may open your mouth to breathe, especially if you have a cold. This can cause the mouth and throat to dry out which can exacerbate the discomfort. Keep a glass of water by your bed, so you can keep hydrated and ease the pain throughout the night.
Eat Soft or Cool Foods
Hot foods can irritate an already sore throat. If swallowing is painful try things like yoghurts or smoothies. Soft fruits is also a good option, along with foods like mashed potato and pasta which are easy to swallow.
Gargle with Warm Salt Water
Gargling with salt water is a great home remedy. The water lubricates your throat and the salt helps reduce inflammation and breaks down sticky mucus. Use warm but not hot water, and repeat as often as required throughout the day to bring relief.
Honey & Ginger
Honey is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research also demonstrates that ginger is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Try adding a couple of teaspoons of natural honey, ideally local honey, to a mug of hot water. Stir in a few thin slices of fresh ginger root (don’t be tempted to use powdered ginger). Leave it to steep for 10 minutes or so, then drink. Let it cool further if it agitates your throat.
Pharmacists & GPs
If your sore throat persists more than a couple of weeks, or is unusually painful, go and see a pharmacist. They’ll be able to offer you something over the counter which can further help reduce pain and inflammation. This could be something like paracetamol, or ibuprofen. Or it could be a medicated soother, or a syrup. As a last resort you GP could prescribe you antibiotics, depending on what’s causing the infection. However, taking antibiotics comes with its own risks. Antibiotic resistance is becoming a major health concern – so it’s better if you can do without taking them.
Sore throats are a common medical complaint. People of all ages and from all around the globe suffer with them. For the most part, our bodies are pretty good at tackling these low-level infections. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a helping hand.
Lots of natural treatments exist, making it easy to ease the pain and discomfort they cause. If you need something more than a good night’s sleep and a gargle with salty water, why not try our Propolis & Honey Throat Spray? It’s packed full of natural anti-inflammatory extracts and pain-relieving extracts. Another option is our Propolis Syrup with Elderberry & Honey. This is a delicious syrup which soothes and protects, helping the body’s immune system respond effectively. For more ideas about how to effectively support your immune system click here.