Having a sore throat makes you feel uncomfortable and puts you in a bad mood as sore throat causes irritation of the throat. It causes also pain when you swallow. Various factors can be responsible for causing a sore throat. Usually, what causes sore throat is bacteria or viruses. Seasonal allergies, smoking, and pollution can also cause throat pain.
Viruses are often one of the most common causes of sore throats. A sore throat is usually an early sign of a cold. Throat pain from cold lasts for a couple of days before you start to feel better again. Also, Some types of sore throat caused by bacteria can cause complications if you don’t get proper medical treatment.
You should see a doctor if throat pain doesn’t go away in a week. Also, some natural remedies can help you relieve pain and reduce throat pain.
Sore Throat Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of a sore throat include:
- Pain or discomfort while swallowing.
- Red swollen tonsils.
- Scratchy sensation.
- White patches form on the tonsils.
- Swelling of the glands in your neck.
- A hoarse voice.
You may experience some other symptoms along with a sore throat, like:
- Runny nose.
- Body aches.
- Loss of appetite.
Sore Throat Causes
Many possible factors can cause a sore throat like bacteria, viruses, dry air, allergies, cold air, and pollution. Here are some causes:
1- Viral Infections
Most cases of sore throats are caused by viruses. So the viruses that cause a sore throat include:
- Influenza ( Flu ).
- The Common cold.
Measles is a contagious viral infection that causes fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, rash, and eye inflammation. It can be easily prevented with a vaccine. Also, you should see a doctor, if you have been exposed to someone with measles.
Mononucleosis is an infectious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EPV). It’s also known as “the kissing” disease as it spreads through saliva. This disease causes fever, sore throat, and muscle pain. Usually, this disease goes away on its own in 4 weeks to 8 weeks.
Chickenpox is a contagious infection caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus. Chickenpox causes an itchy rash, fever, headache, and loss of appetite. It can be prevented with a vaccine.
Mumps is a viral infection that causes the salivary glands around your neck to swell. Also, it’s a contagious disease that causes a headache, fever, sore throat, and loss of appetite. It affects adults and children but mumps is more common in children between 2-12 years. Fortunately, mumps can be prevented if the child gets two doses of MMR vaccine.
2- Bacterial Infections
Some bacterial infections can cause sore throats. Strep throat is the most common bacterial infection that causes pain and irritation of the throat. Group A streptococcus bacteria are responsible for causing strep throat.
This infection causes also tonsillitis and it mainly affects children. Patients who have strep throat should see a doctor as this infection requires treatment. The doctor will examine you and may prescribe antibiotics to avoid complications.
What can also cause a sore throat is some sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia.
Exposing to pollen, pet dander, dust, or other allergy triggers can cause a sore throat. Your immune system thinks that the allergen that you exposed to is something harmful. Then the immune system overreacts by releasing chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Allergy symptoms are like:
- Watery eyes.
- Skin rash.
- Itchy nose.
- Itchy eyes.
Allergy symptoms can go from mild to more severe like vomiting, dizziness, swelling, or nausea. This can also cause postnasal drip which means that mucus from your nose drip down the back of the throat. So postnasal drip can cause scratchiness and irritation of the throat.
4- Smoking And Other Irritants
Air pollution and smoking can irritate your throat. Chemicals and cleaning products can also cause a sore throat. Moreover, drinking alcohol frequently could cause throat pain.
5- Dry Air
Breathing through your mouth or sleeping with your mouth open causes a sore throat. Also, using the heater in winter makes the air dry which can cause a sore dryness and discomfort.
6- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder that causes stomach acid to come up into the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube that connects the mouth and the stomach. Some common signs and symptoms of this disease are like:
- Regurgitation of food and acid into the throat.
- Pain or discomfort while swallowing.
What can also cause a sore throat is a tumor of the throat, tongue, or voice box. In this case, sore pain is mainly a sign of cancer. Tumors can also cause some symptoms like pain when you swallow, blood in saliva, and a neck lump.
8- HIV Infection
People with HIV infection feel pain and irritation of their throats as an early sign of the infection. Also, they may experience a chronic or recurring sore throat. They may develop thrush which is a fungal infection or viral infection called cytomegalovirus.
HIV infection causes fever, sore throat, skin rash, diarrhea, muscle ache, and tonsillitis. Fungal and viral infections can be serious and last for months especially in people with a compromised immune system.
Yelling, talking, or singing for long periods can cause a sore throat. People who their jobs need them to talk loudly like teachers and fitness instructors get a sore throat easily. They strain muscles in the throat which can irritate it.
Also, having food stuck in your throat can cause scratchiness and pain in the throat.
When To See A Doctor
Some cases of a sore throat usually go away in a couple of days while some other cases require medical treatment. So you should visit a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe sore throat lasts for more than one week.
- Breathing problems.
- Joints and muscles ache.
- Fever higher than 38 C ( 101 F ).
- Pain when swallow.
- Blood in phlegm or saliva.
- Skin rash.
- A hoarse voice lasts for more than two weeks.
- A neck lump and swelling in your face.
If your child has a sore throat that doesn’t go away the next morning, you should get immediate care. Also, a doctor should see your child if the child experience:
- Trouble breathing.
- Pain while swallowing or the child is not able to swallow.
Natural Home Remedies For Sore Throat
Here are some easy natural remedies that can help relieve the pain and irritation of your throat:
Mix one tablespoon of honey with a glass of warm water to soothe a sore throat. Honey helps your body fight infections and relieve the pain. Also, honey is an effective treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty that most children suffer from.
2- Salt Water
It helps kill microbes in the throat and ease the pain. Salt water can also reduce swelling. Moreover, it helps you to get rid of phlegm and mucus in your throat. So combine one teaspoon of salt with one cup of warm water then gargle with the mixture for 30 seconds. You should repeat this process every 2-3 hours.
Peppermint has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can speed up healing. It also helps thin mucus and ease throat discomfort. So steep fresh peppermint leaves in boiling water for a few minutes then remove the leaves and drink.
4- Lemon Water
Lemon has antioxidant properties and contains vitamin C which can help soothe sore throats. Also, it can boost the immune system to fight off infections and break up mucus. Combine 4 tablespoons of lemon juice with a cup of warm water and drink it. You can also add one tablespoon of honey to the mixture to provide pain relief.
5- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can relieve the pain of a sore throat. So drink chamomile tea to soothe the pain and boost the immune system to kill bacteria and viruses.
6- Ginger Root Tea
Ginger has antibacterial properties that can calm a sore throat and reduce pain. A study showed that ginger root extract can kill bacteria that cause infection.
To make ginger tea root:
- peel ginger root and slice it thinly then boil the ginger in water ( 1 liter ) for about 10 minutes.
- Remove it from the heat then add one tablespoon of honey and 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice to the ginger tea & enjoy!
7- Marshmallow Root
So marshmallow root has been used for ages to soothe throat pain. It contains a gel-like substance called mucilage that can lubricate the throat and reduce irritation. Also, marshmallow root helps reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
A study showed that marshmallow root lozenges can help decrease the severity of coughs and treat it.
To make marshmallow root tea:
Place dried marshmallow root in a mug then pour boiling water over the root. Let it steep for a few minutes then strain the tea in another mug and add honey to it.
8- Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV has been used as a natural remedy since ancient times. It can kill more than one type of bacteria due to the high acidity levels in it. The ancient Greeks used to mix apple cider vinegar with honey to soothe sore throats, calm coughs, and other flu symptoms.
Add one tablespoon of ACV to a cup of warm water and drink. You can also add a tablespoon of honey to the mixture due to its anti-microbial properties.
Consume small amounts of ACV with warm water to avoid any health problems. It’s best to ask your doctor before drinking it. Also, keep in mind that ACV can cause serious problems like bone loss, digestive problems, skin burns, and tooth decay. Read more about ACV side effects here.
9- Drink Fluids
Stay hydrated and drink warm liquids to calm a sore throat. Drink caffeine-free tea, soup broth, herbal infusions, and water to keep the throat moist and speed up healing. Avoid caffeine beverages and alcohol as they can dehydrate your throat.
Chicken soup is also known as the best home remedy for a sore throat. It can soothe the pain and keep your body hydrated. You can also add garlic to the soup as garlic has antibacterial properties. Moreover, Garlic supplements can fight off infections and prevent the common cold virus.
Suck on lozenges to soothe irritation or eat cold treats like ice cream to calm your throat and provide pain relief.
When you have a sore throat, you should rest your voice and sleep well. This helps boost your immune system and gives it time to fight infections.
- First, you should wash your hands frequently to prevent bacteria and germs from spreading. So wash them if you’re going to eat and after you use the bathroom. You should also wash them after sneezing or coughing.
- Use tissues to cough or sneeze into then throw them away. But if you couldn’t grab a tissue, sneeze into your elbow. Don’t sneeze or cough into your hands to prevent the spread of infectious germs.
- Don’t touch bathroom walls or doors in public restaurants.
- Sanitize your cell phone with rubbing alcohol daily as it picks up germs and bacteria everywhere it goes. Clean also TV remotes and computer keyboards.
- Don’t share utensils, forks, or spoons with others. Also, don’t share drinking glasses with others.
- Use a combination of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol ( rubbing alcohol spray )to clean your hands when you can’t use soap and water.
- Keep your distance from sick people.
- When you travel, sanitize phones, remotes, and door handles in your hotel room before touching them.
So there are several factors that can cause a sore throat but usually, it gets better on its own without taking medications. Bacterial infections like strep throat need to be treated. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent more serious complications.
Some natural home remedies can help soothe irritation and relieve the pain. You should also consult a doctor if the symptoms become more severe.