Sore throat is medically termed as pharyngitis which refers to a condition resulting from an inflamed pharynx, which is positioned behind the throat. Inflammation can also affect the tonsils, the back of the tongue and the soft palate—often caused by a viral infection.
Sore throats are also symptoms of bacterial infection affecting the respiratory tract such as strep throat or tonsillitis. Sore throats are contagious and are thus contracted with the contact of contaminated objects. People and children working or studying with close contact are more prone to contracting the condition. The infectious agents are often transmitted by coughing, sneezing, not washing your hands thoroughly—you will incur the condition of you come into close contact, touch or breathe the air near an affected person.
The infection is at its peak during the fall and winter seasons because people spend most of their time indoors.
Of course, the most obvious symptom of pharyngitis is a sore throat. However, it is crucial to realize that sore throat also occurs as a result of many other illnesses and conditions such as cold sores, flu, strep throat and mononucleosis. Other symptoms that may occur along with sore throat are:
- Runny and stuffy nose—congestion
- Persistent and dry coughing
- Redness of the throat
- Red eyes
- Hoarse voice
- Diarrhea—only in children
- Occasionally, painful sores and reddishness around the mouth region
Sore throat that occurs due to a fungal infection (Thrush) will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Breathing difficulties
- White patches in the mouth
This infection is often contracted by young children and people with weak or suppressed immune systems.
When to seek medical attention
If any of the following symptoms arise due to sore throat, visit your doctor immediately:
- A fever above 101 F
- Breathing difficulties through the mouth
- Difficulties while swallowing—preventing you from taking adequate nutrition and fluids
- Loud breathing
- Throat pain that lasts for more than 2 weeks
- Excessive drooling
Bear in mind that viral infections will not respond to antibiotics, therefore, making it highly ineffective. Antibiotics will only work in the case of strep throat which is caused by a bacterial infection. Therefore, treatment depends mainly on alleviating the symptoms and making the victim feel more comfortable:
- Drink lots of fluids. This will prevent dehydration and make you feel better. Therefore, drink plenty of warm fluids such as tea, soup and also have cool fluids such as soft ice cream and water—to relieve your throat pain.
- Get plenty of rest. The more you rest, the more your body will be able to respond to the infection and act against it.
- Gargle with warm salt water. This will reduce the pain.
- Over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen will alleviate throat pain. Do NOT give aspirin to children under 2 years of age.
- Antihistamines also alleviate some symptoms of sore throat.
- You can sue a humid vaporizer to reduce congestion while resting.
- Taking vitamin C supplements can reduce the duration of the condition.
Rarely do sore throats result in the need of immediate first aid or CPR, however, with serious breathing emergencies such as asthma, anaphylaxis or chooking the skills learned in credible first aid and CPR training are applicable.
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