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 #424  by Taong Ki-kik
You know you have a sore throat when you have this scratchy and irritated feeling of the throat. When you swallow, there is pain and discomfort.
There are many causes of sore throat. Oftentimes, sore throat is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The most frequent cause of sore throat is a viral infection, which usually gets well on its own with simple home remedies.

However, sore throat can be caused by a bacterial infection (usually streptococcus bacteria), wherein the tonsils are swollen and red (called tonsillitis). The patient may also experience fever and weakness, and there could also be whitish spots seen on the tonsils, which are made of pus. For tonsillitis, the patient would need to take in antibiotics for ten days to clear the infection.

If the patient has frequent bouts of untreated tonsillitis, he or she may be prone to develop rheumatic heart disease, a disease of the heart valves. Rheumatic heart disease is a serious disorder of the heart, which may lead to heart failure and early death.
Thus if you develop sore throat with fever and swollen tonsils, you should see a doctor immediately for possible antibiotic treatment.

Home Remedies For Sore Throat:
  1. Gargle with warm water and salt preparation. Mix one teaspoon (5 grams) of salt in 1 glass of warm water (8 ounces or 240 ml). Gargle for several seconds and make sure that the fluid reaches the throat area, before spitting it out. This solution will decrease the swelling of the tonsils and relieve the pain. You can do this four times in a day.
  2. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluids in a day. Drink more water, tea or soup, as this will help loosen up the phlegm. If you have fever, drinking liquids can reduce the fever as the body heat is released with urination.
  3. Take chicken soup. Studies have shown that chicken soup can help cure a bout of flu or colds. According to a study by Dr. Stephen Rennard at the University of Nebraska, chicken soup contains the amino acid called cysteine, which can reduce colds and phlegm by decreasing the inflammatory response of the body. In order to maximize the benefit of chicken soup, add carrots, ginger, garlic, onion, sweet potato and black pepper to the soup.
  4. You may drink caffeine-free tea or take in warm water with a little honey. These liquids are soothing to the throat.
  5. You may try throat lozenges. However, do not children lozenges as they may choke on this.
  6. If you have the budget, you can buy humidifier which can moisten the air in your room. Dry air irritates the throat.
  7. Rest your voice and rest your body. Get enough sleep.
  8. Wash your hands often, especially after using the toilet, and after coughing out phlegm.
  9. Have a positive attitude. Imagine your body’s cells fighting the infection. And keep your environment cool and comfortable. All these little things can help you get well sooner.
From my research, there are other home remedies being suggested for sore throat. However, I feel that the remedies I’ve mentioned above are scientifically sound and effective.

When To See A Doctor:
If your sore throat is not getting well or if you have fever or weakness, then it is best to see a doctor, preferably an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist. Seek medical care for patients with difficulty of breathing or difficulty of swallowing.

There are other possible causes of sore throat like gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), wherein the stomach acid goes up to the throat area. Allergies to dust, molds, pets and pollen can also lead to a sore throat. Having a post-nasal drip (dripping of mucous from the nose to the back of the throat) can further irritate the throat.

Inhaling dry air and cigarette smoke care aggravating factors. In fact, sleeping with your mouth open also dries the throat. People who talk and shout a lot can likewise strain their vocal cords leading to hoarseness and sore throat. Occasionally, doctors may find a lump in the throat which requires further testing and work-up.

Hence, from a medical standpoint, a sore throat may not be as simple as it seems. The doctor needs to arrive at the correct diagnosis first before prescribing a cure.
A final reminder: If it’s a bacterial infection from tonsillitis, ordinary medicines can’t cure you. You need your antibiotics to destroy the bacteria. Take your antibiotics at the right dosage and the prescribed length of time.