What Causes Sore Throat?

The unpredictable weather of Singapore can sometimes cause havoc in our bodies. One common complaint is sore throat.

Symptoms
The first sign is usually the pain when swallowing food and liquid. It’s also accompanied by itchiness, irritation, coughing, fever, sneezing, headache, dryness in the throat, hoarse voice, runny nose, and chills.

Sore throat is caused by viruses and has flu-like symptoms. People with allergies and weak immune system are prone to sore throat. Smokers and children also develop them more often.

Causes of Sore Throat
Having a flu or cold can cause sore throat. It’s usually also the first sign that you have a cold. Other viral infections including measles, larynx infection, chickenpox and mononucleosis also cause sore throat. If the sore throat is caused by bacteria it’s called strep throat.

Besides viral and bacterial causes, other factors can also cause sore throat, such as strain on the throat by talking and shouting too much, allergies that cause nasal irritation, smoking, and exposure to dry air.

Strep Throat and Tonsilitis
Strep throat almost has the same symptoms as sore throat but it’s caused by a bacterial infection and also affects the tonsils. Its name is taken from the bacteria which causes the symptoms, Streptococcus pyogenes. Other bacterial infections that cause strep throat are whooping cough and diphtheria.

Tonsilitis can also have the same symptoms, but you need to check if you also have the following: swollen lymph glands, bad breath, swollen tonsils and fever. Tonsilitis can also be viral or bacterial and primarily causes inflammation of the tonsils making it difficult to swallow food, even saliva.

Home Remedies
Fortunately, sore throat can be treated at home. Adults can use throat lozenges. For younger children, these should not be given as they might choke on them. Salt and warm water gargles, sprays and using humidifiers at home can also help. There are also anti-inflammatory medicines and decongestants for sore throat.

Drink water regularly and avoid any irritants if you’re allergic. Other symptoms such as fever and cold can also be treated with over-the-counter drugs. Avoid sharing items with other members of the family and always wash your hands. It can be contagious so cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze.

Calling a Doctor
Gastroesophageal reflux disease also causes sore throat because of the stomach acid in the esophagus. In extreme cases, sore throat is a symptom of throat cancer or HIV.

Get yourself checked if the pain is associated with a tenderness in the neck, palpitations, swollen face, lightheadedness, rashes, joint pains, ear pain, very high fever and when it’s difficult to swallow or breathe. It should not last more than a week as well.

Children sometimes refuse to eat so it makes treatment more difficult. It’s recommended that you take the child to the doctor as soon as possible.

The doctor will determine if the cause is viral or bacterial before giving you instructions for treating sore throat. Bacterial infection requires antibiotics, so self-diagnosing is a no-no. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections after all.

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