Sore Throat: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Sore Throat                Sore throats are very common, especially in children and teenagers who have not yet fully developed their immune system against many of the viruses and bacteria that result to sore throats. The throat, or pharynx, is the tube that transports food to the esophagus and delivers air to the trachea (windpipe) and larynx. Rather than being a condition on its own, it is commonly a symptom for an underlying infection. There is usually no need for medical help and can be easily treated at home.Sore throat can also be interchangeably called pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx).

Causes of Sore Throat

                As mentioned, sore throat is commonly caused by viruses and bacteria. However, there are also other mechanical causes that can lead to sore throat. In about one third of all cases of sore throat, there is no definite cause.

  • Viral infection
    • Common cold (most common cause)
    • Laryngitis (voice box infection)
    • Mononucleosis
    • Influenza
    • Mumps
    • Measles
    • Chickenpox
    • Blisters in the mouth
    • Bacterial infection
      • Strep throat
      • Whooping cough
      • Diphtheria
      • Tonsillitis
      • Adenoiditis
      • Epiglottis
      • Uvulitis
      • In infrequent situations, sexually transmitted disease
      • Irritants
        • From air pollution, such as smoking
        • Allergies (breathing through mouth due to stuffy nose)
        • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
        • Chronic fatigue syndrome
        • Dryness
        • Injuries
          • Injury to back of the throat

Symptoms of Sore Throat

Sore throats are easily diagnosed as there is throat pain. Although it is a symptom on its own, it can be accompanied by other symptoms:

  • Burning or scratching pain in the throat
  • Pain when swallowing or talking
  • Dry throat
  • Neck tenderness
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache and body aches
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Bacterial infection
    • Usually no cough and colds

First Aid Management for Sore Throat

Sore throats are easily managed, especially if caused by a virus. Bacteria-caused sore throats may be slightly harder to treat. Although sore throats do not generally require medical treatment, if sore throat is accompanied by difficulty breathing and swallowing, seek immediate help. But if there are minor symptoms, several home remedies can be done.

  • Home remedies include: salt water gargles, herbal teas, hard candies and throat lozenges
      • For salt water gargles, dissolved one teaspoon of salt in 240mL of warm water. Gargle at least once every hour.
      • Drink hot fluids.
      • Humidifier or vaporizer may also be used to ease symptoms.
      • Do not smoke or avoid secondhand smoke.
      • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help minimize pain. Do not give aspirin to children.
    • For adults, nasal sprays may be advised if the nose is plugged, however, should only be used for three days maximum.

It is highly recommended for parents to take first aid training and CPR courses to be ready in cases of medical emergencies. First aid training offers valuable information for various everyday first aid scenarios, such as nosebleeds and sore throats.