The common cold and flu can cause a number of symptoms – everything from a runny nose to nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing – but perhaps the most painful symptom of all comes in the form of a sore throat. A sore throat is one of the earliest symptoms of a viral infection, suggesting that a cold may be on its way.
Sore throats are separated into three different types: Pharyngitis, Laryngitis, and Tonsillitis.
Pharyngitis affects the area just behind the mouth, laryngitis causes the voice box/larynx to become red and/or swollen, while tonsillitis, results in the soft tissue near the back of the mouth to also become red and swollen. You can also develop a sore throat as a bacterial infection – most commonly strep throat, which can be a complication from a common cold or simply develop on its own. With strep throat you may notice white patches appear in the back of the throat, and you will need to be prescribed antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
A sore throat is often described as a razor-like, dry or scratchy sensation – or all of the above. With a sore throat it can be difficult to swallow, eat certain foods, and even speak. It’s also not uncommon to develop sore or swollen glands in the neck, fever, chills, headache and body aches.
So just how do you get rid of a sore throat? Unfortunately, nature has to take its course, but there are some steps you can take to help relieve a sore throat. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, recommends gargling with luke-warm salt water (approximately half a cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.) Drinking warm liquids such as tea with honey, hot water with lemon, or broth, can also be soothing to a sore throat. Alternatively, cooling your throat with ice chips can also be helpful, as can using a humidifier to help make the air in your home become more moist.
To prevent sore throats and to reduce your risk of catching a cold or the flu, it is important that you practice good hygiene skills. Always wash your hands, use hand sanitizer if available, and make sure you cough into a tissue or into your arm to prevent the spread of germs.