Friday, March 4, 2016

What is a Sore Throat?

Do you frequently experience sore throats? Do you know what’s causing your throat pain? When should you see a doctor?
What is a Sore Throat?
A sore throat refers to pain or irritation of the throat and can come from many causes however viral infections are most common. A sore throat can affect people of all ages, however the risk for a sore throats is higher for those who work in health care, with children, smokers or exposure to secondhand smoke, people with allergies, those with a compromised immune system, dry air or pollution/irritants in the air or sharing close space with others. The symptoms relating to sore throats will depend on the underlying cause however a sore throat caused due to a viral infection such as the common cold cannot be treated with antibiotics as they will not be effective. Rest and pain management are advised for those suffering from viral infections. As a sore throat can sometimes be caused due to a bacterial infection such as strep throat, it is important to see your doctor if symptoms are severe as antibiotics may be required. See your doctor if you have any other medical problems such as asthma, heart disease, HIV, diabetes, or are pregnant as you may be at a higher risk for complications.
Risk factors for Sore Throats -
Although anyone can get a sore throat, some factors make you more susceptible:
Being a child or teenager: Children and teens are most likely to develop sore throats are most likely to have strep throat.
Exposure to tobacco smoke: Smoking and secondhand smoke can irritate the throat and also increases the risk of several types of cancer.
Having allergies: If you have seasonal allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, moulds or pet dander you are more likely to experience sore throats.
Exposure to chemical irritants: common household chemicals can cause throat irritation.
Chronic or frequent sinus infections: increase the risk of a sore throat as drainage from the nose can irritate the throat or spread infection.
Living or working in close quarters: Viral and bacterial infections spread easily anywhere people gather.
Having decreased immunity: You're more susceptible to infections in general if your resistance is low. Common causes of lowered immunity include HIV, diabetes, those on chemotherapy drugs, stress, fatigue, and poor diet.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Most sore throats don’t require medical attention however, see your doctor if your sore throat lasts longer than one week or if your pain is severe, you have a high fever, rash or bloody mucous, red tonsils or white spots on the back of your throat or changes in breathing, swallowing or you experience frequent sore throats. If you have any other medical problems such as asthma, heart disease, HIV, diabetes, or are pregnant as you may be at a higher risk for complications see your doctor. Make a note of when symptoms started. Have you been in contact with any recent, possible sources of infection, such as a friend or family member with a sore throat or a cold? If antibiotics are required (for a bacterial infection) they must be taken exactly as advised and completed (even if you are feeling better) or the infection may return. If your pain or symptoms are worsening even if you are taking antibiotics to let your doctor know. Get immediate care if you or your child are experiencing severe signs such as difficulty breathing or swallowing or unusual drooling (which may indicate an inability to swallow).

Source: POMGH