Sore Throats: Remedies, Treatment, Symptoms, Causes | Advil

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Sore Throats

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Sore Throats

What is a sore throat?

A sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is a common condition that can often be a result of another respiratory tract infection like a cold or flu.1 Children and teenagers are prone to sore throats, and most adults will experience sore throat at least 2 or 3 times a year.2

Pharyngitis, or a sore throat, occurs when the pharynx, which is located at the back of the throat, is inflamed. 3

The most common sore throat cause is a viral infection (such as cold or flu). When a viral condition is the sore throat cause, it can often be resolved on its own.4

A throat infection can be caught when someone infected sneezes or coughs, releasing infection droplets into the air.5 These infection droplets can be breathed in by others or can be picked up by others through surface contamination. 6

What are the common sore throat symptoms?

The cause of a sore throat normally determines the symptoms that are experienced.7 Symptoms experienced with a sore throat will usually pass within 7 days.8 The common sore throat symptoms experienced by people can include:9,10

  • Pain or scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Pain that worsens when talking or swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore, swollen glands in the neck or jaw
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Hoarse or muffled voice
  • Pain in ears or neck

When a sore throat is caused by a cold or flu virus, the following sore throat symptoms may also be experienced: 11

  • Fever (temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Aching muscles and limbs

A bacterial throat infection (strep throat) is more likely to exist if the following symptoms are experienced:12

  • Fever (temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • No cough
  • Swollen glands in neck

If you have a sore throat that lasts longer than usual, or you experience unusual sore throat symptoms, please visit your doctor to get the most appropriate advice on how to manage your sore throat.

What are the common sore throat causes?

A virus or bacterial infections at the back of the throat in the area known as the pharynx are the most common sore throat cause.13 Majority of sore throats are caused by viruses, including:14,15

  • Colds (rhinovirus, coronavirus)
  • Flu (influenza A and B viruses)

Other sore throat causes include: 16

  • Allergies
  • Dryness of the throat
  • Irritants
  • Muscle strain
  • Reflux

There are also a range of factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing a sore throat. These range of factors that may increase the likelihood of sore throat include: 17

  • Age (children and teens are more likely to develop a sore throat)
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Allergies
  • Exposure to chemical irritants
  • Chronic or frequent sinus infections

When is it necessary to consult a healthcare professional such as a doctor?

Visit a doctor if the below occurs:18

  • Sore throat becomes worse
  • Sore throat does not improve after 5 days
  • Experience unusual symptoms

Sore Throat Treatment: How to fix a sore throat

If a sore throat is caused by a viral infection, limited medical treatment is required. Nevertheless, to ease the pain and fever, symptomatic relief may be appropriate. Sore throat treatment via the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen may help for both adults and children.

Ibuprofen is classed as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs are commonly used to manage mild to moderate pain, inflammation and fever in both adults and children. 19 Ibuprofen, like most NSAIDs, assist with blocking a specific enzyme called cyclooxygenase (or COX) which is used in the production of prostaglandins.20 Prostaglandins are chemicals generated by the body which cause inflammation, pain and fever by increasing the temperature and dilating the blood vessels at the location they are released from.21 By blocking the production of prostaglandins, ibuprofen can help relieve the pain, inflammation and fever. 22

Please ask your pharmacist or doctor if you are unsure about using ibuprofen.

Other than OTC pain relievers, there are other options for sore throat treatment. There are a few simple ways to help soothe a sore throat, and relieve sore throat symptoms. These sore throat treatment options include: 23

  • Gargling warm, salty water
  • Sucking on an ice cube or throat lozenge
  • Drinking hot water with honey and lemon
  • Resting
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Inhaling steam to relieve blocked nose

Can I use different sore throat remedies to relieve the sore throat symptoms?

Herbal or alternative products to relieve sore throat symptoms do exist. The most common forms of these sore throat remedies include:24

  • Slippery elm
  • Liquorice root
  • Marshmallow root
  • Honeysuckle flower and other Chinese medicinal herbs

Please consult a doctor or pharmacist before trying any herbal or alternative sore throat remedies to relieve your symptoms.

How can I prevent myself from getting a sore throat?

Avoiding germs and practicing good hygiene are the most effective methods to preventing sore throats from occurring.25 Here are some tips on how to practice good hygiene and lower the risk of getting a sore throat: 26

  • Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks or utensils
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Avoid touching public phones or drinking fountains with your mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

References:

  1. 1 NPS Australia, Sore Throat (throat infection, pharyngitis), [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat
  2. 2NPS Australia, Sore Throat (throat infection, pharyngitis), [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat
  3. 3Health Direct, Pharyngitis, [Accessed 20 February 2017] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sore-throat
  4. 4Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  5. 5NPS Australia, Sore Throat (throat infection, pharyngitis), [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat
  6. 6NPS Australia, Sore Throat (throat infection, pharyngitis), [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat
  7. 7Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  8. 8 NPS Australia, Sore Throat (throat infection, pharyngitis), [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat
  9. 9Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  10. 10NPS Australia, What are the symptoms of a throat infection?, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/symptoms
  11. 11NPS Australia, What are the symptoms of a throat infection?, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/symptoms
  12. 12NPS Australia, What are the symptoms of a throat infection?, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/symptoms
  13. 13NPS Australia, What are the causes of a throat infection?, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/causes
  14. 14NPS Australia, What are the causes of a throat infection?, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/causes
  15. 15Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  16. 16Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  17. 17Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  18. 18Health Direct, Pharyngitis, [Accessed 20 February 2017] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sore-throat
  19. 19Better Health Channel, Medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, [Accessed 11 January 2017] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/medications-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs
  20. 20Better Health Channel, Medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, [Accessed 11 January 2017] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/medications-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs
  21. 21Better Health Channel, Medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, [Accessed 11 January 2017] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/medications-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs
  22. 22Better Health Channel, Medications – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, [Accessed 11 January 2017] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/medications-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs
  23. 23NPS Australia, Sore Throat – Medicines & Treatment [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/medicines-and-treatments
  24. 24Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937
  25. 25 Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat Self- Management, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/manage/ptc-20202009
  26. 26Mayo Clinic, Sore Throat Self- Management, [Accessed 20 February 2017] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/manage/ptc-20202009