Sore Throat & Medication Doctor in Mursfreeboro, TN
Helton Family Medicine, a Mursfreeboro Family Doctor helps individuals who are struggling with Sore Throat find long-term recovery. Located in Mursfreeboro, TN, Helton Family is the leader in mental health care.
A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.
Most sore throats are caused by infections, or by environmental factors like dry air. Although a sore throat can be uncomfortable, it’ll usually go away on its own.
Pain in the throat is one of the most common symptoms. It accounts for more than 13 million visits to doctor’s offices each year.
Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of sore throat might require more complex treatment.
Sore throat may be caused by either from injury or infection. Here are eight of the most common sore throat causes.
1. Colds, the flu, and other viral infections
- the common cold
- influenza — the flu
- mononucleosis, an infectious disease that’s transmitted through saliva
- measles, an illness that causes a rash and fever
- chickenpox, an infection that causes a fever and an itchy, bumpy rash
- mumps, an infection that causes swelling of the salivary glands in the neck
2. Strep throat and other bacterial infections
Bacterial infections can also cause sore throats. The most common one is strep throat, an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.
Strep throat causes nearly 40 percent of sore throat cases in children (3). Tonsillitis, and sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia can also cause a sore throat.
When the immune system reacts to allergy triggers like pollen, grass, and pet dander, it releases chemicals that cause symptoms like nasal congestion, watery eyes, sneezing, and throat irritation.
Excess mucus in the nose can drip down the back of the throat. This is called postnasal drip and can irritate the throat.
4. Dry air
Dry air can suck moisture from the mouth and throat, and leave them feeling dry and scratchy. The air is most likely dry in the winter months when the heater is running.
5. Smoke, chemicals, and other irritants
Many different chemicals and other substances in the environment irritate the throat, including:
- cigarette and other tobacco smoke
- air pollution
- cleaning products and other
6. Any injury, such as a hit or cut to the neck, can cause pain in the throat. Getting a piece of food stuck in your throat can also irritate it.
Repeated use strains the vocal cords and muscles in the throat. You can get a sore throat after yelling, talking loudly, or singing for a long period of time. Sore throats are a common complaint among fitness instructors and teachers, who often have to yell (4).
7. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus — the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
The acid burns the esophagus and throat, causing symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux — the regurgitation of acid into your throat.
A tumor of the throat, voice box, or tongue is a less common cause of a sore throat. When a sore throat is a sign of cancer, it doesn’t go away after a few days.
The symptoms of a sore throat can vary depending on what caused it. A sore throat can feel:
It may hurt more when you swallow or talk. Your throat or tonsils might also look red.
Sometimes, white patches or areas of pus will form on the tonsils. These white patches are more common in strep throat than in a sore throat caused by a virus.
Common infections causing a sore throat might result in other signs and symptoms, including:
- Runny nose
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
Home remedies for a sore throat
You can treat most sore throats at home. Get plenty of rest to give your immune system a chance to fight the infection.
To relieve the pain of a sore throat:
Gargle with a mixture of warm water and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt.
Drink warm liquids that feel soothing to the throat, such as hot tea with honey, soup broth, or warm water with lemon. Herbal teas are especially soothing to a sore throat (5).
Cool your throat by eating a cold treat like a popsicle or ice cream.
Suck on a piece of hard candy or a lozenge.
Turn on a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Rest your voice until your throat feels better.
Over the Counter Medicines
You can take medicines to relieve the pain of a sore throat, or to treat the underlying cause.
Over-the-counter medications that relieve throat pain include:
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Don’t give aspirin to children and teenagers, as it’s been linked to a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.
You can also use one or more of these treatments, which work directly on the pain of a sore throat:
- a sore throat spray that contains a numbing antiseptic like phenol, or a cooling ingredient like menthol or eucalyptus
- throat lozenges
- cough syrup
Some herbs, including slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root, are sold as sore throat remedies. There’s not much evidence these work, but an herbal tea called Throat Coat that contains all three did relieve throat pain in one study.
I’m Dr. Helton.
I started practicing medicine in the year 2000, and over the past 18 years have treated and served over 15,000 patients. I’m the current president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of Family Physicians, an Executive board member of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians and Chairman of St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Family Medicine Department.
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