A sore throat is a painful but common affliction that everyone suffers from on occasion. It may be the first sign of a cold, the result of strained vocal cords or a symptom of a more serious condition such as strep throat. As miserable as a sore throat can make you feel, in many cases symptoms clear up quickly and without medical treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of a Sore Throat?
Symptoms of a sore throat include pain, scratchiness, dry throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swollen neck or jaw glands and swollen or inflamed tonsils. You may also have a fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sneezing, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea and vomiting.
What Causes a Sore Throat?
Most sore throats are the result of viral infections, often related to the common cold or flu. Bacterial infections can also lead to sore throats. Some of the more common ones include strep throat, tonsillitis, whooping cough and diphtheria.
Additional factors that can cause a sore throat include allergies, acid reflux, environmental irritants, dry air and strained vocal cords. Occasionally a more serious condition, such as a tumor or HIV, can cause a sore throat.
Treatment & Prevention of Sore Throat
Home remedies are often the most effective treatment method for a sore throat. Try gargling with warm salt water periodically through the day. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids and use throat lozenges and cough drops to relieve soreness and irritation.
A humidifier is often helpful. Over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants are beneficial at providing relief as well. If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, you’ll need to treat it with antibiotics.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a sore throat in the future. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve and do not share food or utensils with others who are sick.
If you have a sore throat that persists for over 4 weeks, it may be a sign of throat cancer and requires a prompt ENT evaluation.
Call Burlington Ear Nose & Throat at (319) 752-2725 for more information or to schedule an appointment.