Winters and Sore Throat

by Garreth Myers


Millions of Americans develop sore throats every year especially during the winter months. Very often, dry air along with the temperature differential between the warmth of the home and the cold outdoors can cause a chronic sore throat along with a parched feeling especially towards the morning. These factors make a person more susceptible to viral and bacterial infection which are the main causes of sore throat.

A sore throat is a symptom of different medical conditions, the most common of them being a viral infection including the flu and the common cold. Bacterial infections may also cause sore throats and are commonly referred to as “strep throats”. Another cause of sore throat is allergies which may be triggered by pollen or dry, dusty air.

The treatment for sore throats depends on the underlying cause. Sore throats caused by bacteria such as streptococcus usually respond well to treatment with antibiotics. These bacteria can cause a range of illnesses including scarlet fever and pneumonia and can spread to other areas of the body, causing damage to organs such as the heart and the kidneys. This is why it is important for you to consult a doctor as soon as you develop a sore throat.

Sore throats resulting from viral infections on the other hand, do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. The most common of these during the winter months are the cold and the flu virus which result in stuffy noses, coughs, blocked nasal passages, body aches and sore throats. These infections can be quite contagious, often causing epidemics within small communities. Viral infections usually run their course within a week, with the body manufacturing antibodies that help to kill the virus. However, certain viral infections such as infectious mononucleosis can last for more than a few weeks and require special treatment.

Sore throats due to allergies are quite common during winter with heating systems that blow dust throughout the house being the main culprit.

Whatever be the cause of your sore throat, there are certain remedies that you may employ at home that will help take the edge off the symptoms. These include:

  • Get plenty of rest. This will allow your body to focus its energies on fighting the infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and keep your body well hydrated. This will help prevent a dry throat and will thin out the mucus secretions, making it easier to expectorate.
  • Gargling with warm salt water several times a day will help soothe the throat and reduce irritation. Use about I teaspoon of water dissolved in 1 glass of water.
  • If your throat is hurting a lot, try dissolving aspirin in warm water and gargling with it. The aspirin will coat the inside of your throat and reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Suck on throat lozenges.
  • Iced foods such as ice cream or popsicles will help to soothe the irritation and reduce inflammation in the throat.
  • Use a humidifier in your room, especially at night.
  • Drink plenty of chicken broth throughout the day.
  • Honey has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which will help soothe your throat. Either have a teaspoon of honey 3 to 4 times a day or mix it with warm water and drink.
  • Make a poultice using chamomile flowers. This can be done by infusing 1 tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers into 1 cup of boiling water, letting it steep for 10 minutes and then straining it. A clean cloth should be soaked in the infusion and applied to the neck.
  • Take vitamin C and zinc supplements to help boost your body’s immune system.
  • Echinacea supplements can help boost your immune system and help it to fight the infection.
Consult your doctor before attempting any of these home remedies.

References:
  1. http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/lung_diseases/cold/pages/index.aspx
  2. http://www.oto-hns.northwestern.edu/Voice/Voice/Sore%20Throats.pdf

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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