Sore throat is one of the most common symptom. Many people admit to doctor because of this problem.
What causes sore throat? It can be a result of many problems. Infections are the main causes. Viruses and bacteria are the main microbes. Bacteria can be treated with antibiotics but viruses are mostly self limited.
Viruses: Main reason of common cold. Nasal obstruction, sneezing, tiredness, sore throat are the starting symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections. Viruses are contagious and grow easily especially in winter. Body with its selfdefence mechanisms get rid of the viruses approximately in one week.
Measles, varicella, pertusis are caused by viruses and sore throat are seen in these diseases. Apthous lesions and candida fungal infections also cause sore throat.
“Infectious mononucleosis” can last longer than one week. This virus settles in lymph nodes, tonsils get bigger and whitish membrane covers the tonsils. Lyph nodes under axilla and inguinal region swell. Severe cases cause severe sore throat and liver can swell as well. It can cause fatigue lasting 6 weeks.
This disease is severe during adolescent and puberty period but less severe during childhood. It passes from human to human by split therefore called as “kiss disease”. You should not use the same materials with these patients, like towels.
Bacteria: Strep infections are caused by bacteria from “streptococcus” family. If not propery treated rather low probability but they can cause rheumatoid fever, nephritis, heart problems. These kind of bacteriae also cause tonsillitis, pneumonia, scarlet fever, sinusitis and ear infections.
They are treated with antibiotics because of systemic danger of complications. These bacteria need to be cultured sometimes.
Tonsils are two lympoid tissues found at the two side of the tongue base. In some conditions they can hire microbes. Recent investigations showed that if tonsils are taken out, children who undergo frequent infections get more healthy.
Post nasal drainage of infected secretions can cause sore throat as well.
The most dangerous throat infection is “epiglottitis”. Epiglot is an organ preventing foods and liquids to enter the lungs stay just above esophagus and larynx. If it swells, it can block respiration. This is an emergency situation.
Allergy: Patient with allergy can feel sore throat besides nasal secretion, sneezing, postnasal drainage, nasal obstruction. Pollens and fungal particles disturbing the nose can also disturb the throat. Patients allergic to dogs and cats can feel sore throat when they meet them. Mites are the commonest of them especially causing problems in dry air.
Irritation: Because of dry air due to heating at winter people can get sore throat in the morning. Nebulizing the air can prevent this. If nasal obstruction is causing dry mouth then it should be treated.
Another reason for sore throat seen in the morning is reflux of stomach acid to throat. You should elevate your head during sleep and try not to eat just before going to sleep. You should admit to doctor if these precautions do not work.
Industrial air pollution can also irritate nose and throat, but the oldest and well known irritant is smoking. Allergic people cannot tolerate it. Alcohol and spicy foods also irritate the throat.
Too much talking or shouting can cause throat pain.
Tumors: Upper respiratory airway tumors are mostly associated with smoking. Long period of smoking and alcohol intake are the main reasons for tumors. Sometimes sore throat can be the first sign
Diagnosis: Diagnosis is made by ear, nose, throat specialist.
How can I treat my sore throat?
Following applications can help sore throat in common cold:
*Increase fluid intake (tea with honey is a well known public precaution)
*You can nebulize your environment.
*You can gargle your mouth with salty water.
*Light pain killers (analgesics) can be used.
*You can use pastilles.
When should I admit to a doctor?
If sore throat continues more than 5-7 days. And if it is caused by an allergic material that you cannot avoid then you should admit to a doctor. Following signs should warn you to admit a doctor:
*Severe and long time period sore throat
*Difficulty in breathing
*Difficulty in swallowing
*Difficulty to open the mouth
*Fever (above 38 degrees celcius)
*Swelling in the neck
*Hoarseness longer than two weeks.
When shoud I take antibiotic?
Antibiotics are the drugs that prevent the growth or cause the death of the bacteriae. If the doctor suspects or if the cultures are positive for group A beta hemolytic streptococ infections then doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Sometimes viruses decrease the immune reaction of the body and mix infections can occur in which both pathologic bacteriae and viruses grow. Then you can use antibiotic in these cases.
Antibiotics should be taken with doctors’ prescription carefully.
Should the other members of the family get throat culture or treated with antibiotics?
Streptococcal infections are very contagious therefore some doctors treat other members of the family as well. Some doctors only treat patients and get the culture from others. Do not get close contact to family members who are ill. Wash your hands frequently.
These informations given here are just for your general health care. Your special symptoms and diseases will be treated by your private doctor who examines you.