Sore Throat Causes and Treatment

While cold and flu season may no longer be at its peak, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods and can’t still get sick.

Cold and flu symptoms are usually similar (but can vary in severity), with a sore throat being the most common (and usually the first) symptom to develop. Because it’s the first symptom to develop, it’s also the first symptom to go away – usually dissipating after just a few days. However, those few days can be uncomfortable, and everything from talking to eating to swallowing can be painful.

Although there is no cure for a sore throat, there are certain things Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, recommends patients to do help make them feel more comfortable, such as: Drinking warm liquids (such as tea or lemon with honey), sucking on ice chips or lozenges, or eating popsicles. You can also try over-the-counter medications such as throat sprays and cough syrup, as well as things like Advil and Tylenol. These medications can not only help relieve a sore throat, but can also reduce things like fever and body aches, which are both common with cold and flu viruses. Dr. Ali Ghahary says patients also need to ensure they’re getting enough rest. Lack of sleep can weaken the immune system and make you much more prone to developing reoccurring colds or flu viruses. Making sure you get a good night’s rest (and even take naps during the day, if you feel like your body needs it) will help you heal faster.

If your symptoms persist after one week and you find you’re not getting any better, or your sore throat has gotten worse, it would be a good idea to follow-up with your family physician, as sometimes a sore throat may be the result of a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, or you may have tonsillitis. Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. With strep throat, patients often describe it as the worst sore throat they’ve ever had. If a patient has tonsillitis, their tonsils become red and inflamed. In some cases patients will have recurring tonsillitis and may require surgery to remove their tonsils. This type of procedure is performed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT) and is done under general anesthetic. If strep throat is the cause of the sore throat, you will need to be prescribed a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Treating strep throat with antibiotics is crucial, as complications can develop if it is left untreated, including rheumatic fever, otitis media (middle ear infection), pneumonia, and even meningitis.


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