If you have a throat that feels like sand paper, is swollen and makes even the thought of swallowing painful, you have a sore throat. You have company, for it is the single commonest reason for which people go to doctor’s offices. A sore throat could be an innocuous one associated with a cold virus or it could be a bacterial one like a strep throat which is much more serious. Strep throats could be connected to rheumatic fever which can cause permanent damage to the heart. If the soreness does not disappear in couple of days, it is a good idea to visit a doctor. A throat swab will reveal the nature of the infection. The swab will be sent for a culture that will show what the infection is. Strep throats are much rarer than viral infections.
What Brings About A Sore Throat?
Apart from these there are some other causes for a sore throat. These include:
- Acid Reflux
- Mouth breathing
- Throat abuse: singing, shouting or coughing
- Infected tonsils
For mild sore throats that are brought about by cold or flu, there are many home remedies that can help ease the discomfort. Anything more serious will need prescription medicines. Sore throats need to be kept moist and warm. Dryness only aggravates sore throats. Even if the sore throat is a serious one, home remedies can be followed side by side with prescription ones. Strep throats are accompanied by chills and body aches.
Decongest Your Nose
Most common among the causes of a sore throat is post nasal drip and a dry throat that is the result of sleeping with the mouth open. When the nasal passages are blocked during a cold, it is usual for the mouth to fall open during sleep. Using decongestants especially those containing pseudoephedrine will open out nasal passages. The bedroom can be kept humid using a humidifier. Saline nasal sprays will give some temporary relief. But they have to be used frequently. Decongestants should not be used indiscriminately as it may actually cause chronic dryness. A sore throat is an inflammation of the pharynx and dryness in the throat makes the condition worse.
Gargling Is No Old Wives Tale!
It is a good idea to rest while you have a sore throat. Resting will help to conserve energy to fight the infection. Gargling is one of the most effective measures against a sore throat. Gargling can be done using a variety of liquids. Raspberry leaf tea makes a very effective gargle. Steep a teaspoonful of dry raspberry leaves in a cup of boiling water. Let it remain for at least 10 minutes. Strain and sip or gargle. Drinking the tea helps to bring down fever. The same sort of tea can be made using sage too. A teaspoon of cider vinegar and honey can be added to it. Gargle at least four times a day.
Turmeric Holds The Key
Turmeric has long been recognized as a natural antibiotic. Gargling with a turmeric infusion can calm a cranky throat. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric and ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and bring to a boil. Cool to comfortable warmth and gargle. Turmeric can be added to a cup of boiling milk and allowed to infuse for 10 minutes. Cool slightly, add a teaspoon of honey, stir and sip. Try the conventional salt water gargle too. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of very warm water. Gargling with this loosens phlegm and reduces inflammation. Gargle frequently to see the difference. Mix a spoonful of the juice of fresh ginger, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of warm water and lick.
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Citrus fruits contain vitamin C that will help heal a sore throat. Lemon juice can be mixed with honey, diluted with hot water and sipped to give relief to a bad throat. It is generally believed that cold stuff can make a sore throat worse. But there is no scientific backing for that. In fact sucking on a frozen fruit lolly can cool a hot and flushed throat. Sip hot liquids like herbal teas, and regular tea to soothe an irritated throat. They also provide you with sufficient fluids that will keep you hydrated for long. Spices like marjoram and celery can be turned into infusions that will soothe a sore throat. Sweeten with honey instead of sugar for more benefit.
Keeping a regular hard candy in your mouth can increase the flow of saliva into the mouth and throat which will prevent dryness. One of the best ways to deal with a cold and sore throat is steam inhalation. Boil a saucepan of water, add couple of drops of Eucalyptus Oil and place on a firm surface. Keep your face over it and tent a thick towel over your head so that you can breathe in that hot steam. Make sure you do not scald your face by going too close to the hot container. Scientific research has it that steaming is one of the sure shot ways of shortening a cold. So it is worth giving it a try.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Even if you don’t feel like eating much, make sure you get 8-10 glasses of fluids a day. It need not all be water. But give colas and aerated drinks a miss. If cold drinks make you feel worse, stick to hot ones. Chicken soup is a comfort food that will do you good. You get sustenance and fluids and it is a meal in itself. An unlikely remedy lies in marshmallows. The modern marshmallows are made using gelatin and sugar. When wet with warm saliva, they turn slippery and are easy to swallow. You could finally make cold fighting superfoods a part of your diet so that you have resistance to colds. Vitamin C rich foods are in plenty and so making them part of your regular diet is easy. Eat the fruits in season to get good quality cold fighting nutrients. Exercising regularly also gives you powerful lungs and increases their capacity. It helps you take deep breaths too. Deep breathing wards off colds.