Sore throat is defined as discomfort or a feeling of irritation in the neck that gets worse most times when swallowing. Pain is the main symptom seen in pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx or throat). Often, the terms of pharyngitis and sore throat are used interchangeably. Sore throat is often caused by a viral infection, flu or cold. A sore throat triggered by a virus can self-heal with home care, however, if it is triggered by a bacterial infection, the sore throat may require antibiotic treatment. There may be other reasons for neck pain that may require complex care regimens.
Sore Throat Symptoms
Symptoms of a sore throat varies, depending on the cause. These may include:
- Discomfort or feeling of irritation or scratch in the throat
- Pain that worsens during swallowing or speech
- Difficulty when swallowing
- Sensation of dry throat
- Inflamed or painful glands
- Swelling and redness of the tonsils
- White spots or pus present in on the throat and tonsils
- Thick speech
- Pain when eating and eating refusal (especially seen in infants and young children).
Common infections that could be the basis for pain in the neck may have other associated signs and symptoms:
Sore Throat Causes
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Larynx cancer
- Cancer of the mouth
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Strep throat
Other causes of sore throat:
- Bacterial infection
- Chemical irritation (tear gas, smoke).
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Dry Air
- Diverse viral infections
Sore Throat Treatment
What treatments can be applied to eliminate the neck pain? Antibiotics for viral infections, proved ineffective are not recommended. Symptoms in this case will begin to disappear when the body triggers its self-defense system, usually 7-10 days will pass until recovery. To relieve sore throat pain and problems that it causes the following are recommended:
- Antipiretic drugs (that fight fever) – acetaminophen – Tylenol, ibuprofen, novocalmin. Children under 12 can not be given aspirin (high chances to develop Reyes syndrome)
- Gargle with warm water and salt (1 / 4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup water).
- Adults and older children can use candy to relieve the burning sensation in the throat (eg Halls).
- High consumption of warm or cold liquids (avoid hot foods and liquids, as they can be able to irritate the throat worse), easily digestible foods and as more fluids.
If the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection your doctor will prescribe antibiotics – penicillin treatment for 10 days (later research showed that treatment for 5-7 days does not give positive results, there is a risk of complications and unwanted re-infection).
In case of allergy to penicillin erythromycin is prescribed. Although improvement occurs in the first days of antibiotic treatment it is very important to completely finish the treatment in order to prevent rheumatic fever. Approximately 15% of patients relapse and a second course of antibiotics are needed. Strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis) is contagious and patient should be isolated. Children can return to school if fever was not present in the last 24 hours and had at least 2 days of antibiotic treatment.
If the sore throat is caused by different types of bacteria, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to destroy the bacterial flora. Any antibiotic has to be followed until the end to prevent reinfection and complications. In the case of infectious mononucleosis your doctor will recommend avoiding long and heavy physical activity. Symptoms can last in some cases more than 4 weeks.