A sore throat, sometimes referred to as pharyngitis, is a painful irritation and inflammation of the throat. It may be accompanied by scratchiness, swollen glands, hoarseness, inflamed tonsils and/or adenoids, fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sneezing, headache, nausea, vomiting, and aching muscles or joints.
Common Causes of Sore Throat
Most sore throats are caused by viral infections such as colds or flu. A bacterial infection known as strep throat is also frequently responsible.
Other causes include strained vocal cords, tonsillitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, allergies, acid reflux, excessively dry air, tumor and HIV.
Sore Throat Remedies
Sore throats caused by viruses will clear up on their own and require no medical intervention. Home remedies are the most effective treatment; these include gargling with warm salt water (use a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water), drinking plenty of fluids, consuming warm liquids (broth, bouillon, tea with honey) and sucking on throat lozenges, cough drops, or hard candy to help relieve irritation. Use a humidifier to help moisten the air, preventing your throat from drying out; alternatively, spend several minutes in a steamy bathroom after running a hot shower. Nonprescription pain relievers and decongestants can also be used, as needed. Get plenty of rest, and resist the urge to use your voice as much as possible.
If a bacterium such as strep throat is the cause, you’ll need antibiotics to clear up the infection. Penicillin is most commonly prescribed. You’ll need to take the full course of antibiotics (usually ten days) even if symptoms improve; this will ensure the infection doesn’t worsen or spread to other parts of the body.
In order to prevent a sore throat, practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, or use a hand sanitizer. Do not share food or beverages with others, and avoid contact with those who are sick. If you must cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of it properly.