January 18, 2023

Sore throat

Cold air and daily changes in temperature are the causes of the condition of sore throat, which occurs as a result of a cold, and is very often the result of allergies, polluted air, smoking, consumption of certain drinks, breathing through the mouth, as well as problems with paranasal sinuses. Although mostly harmless, the condition of a sore throat can sometimes be caused by serious diseases. At first, it looks like tickling, scratching, difficult swallowing, but in some cases patients face hoarseness, cough, pain that spreads to the ears, and can be followed by general weakness and malaise. The throat is exposed to “attack” by various microorganisms, above all, viruses (causing colds, infectious mononucleosis…) and bacteria. Infections are most common at the end of autumn and during winter, and are transmitted through dirty hands, direct contact, for example, by coughing, sneezing and kissing. It often occurs in children and young adults, but it can occur at any age. Therefore, it should not be surprising that many children “suffer” from the condition of sore throat. During the heating season, the air in living rooms is dry, so if “humidifiers” are not used on radiators and other heating elements, morning dryness of the mouth and throat is an unpleasant condition, but it does not cause infection.

How to prevent the occurrence of a sore throat? • Protect your throat – If your throat hurts and itches, take a break. Speak less, take longer pauses when speaking, maintain an even tone. Do not talk for a long time in the cold and outdoors.

• Be careful with drinks – Do not drink excessively hot, cold or carbonated drinks. Avoid smoky and stuffy rooms that can contribute to scratchy and sore throats. • Protect yourself – Use pastilles and sprays to protect the mucous membrane of the throat. One of the ways to take care of your throat is to regularly rinse it with herbal teas. • Breathe through the nose – This is the only healthy way of breathing, because breathing through the mouth significantly damages the mucous membrane of the throat. For proper breathing through the nose, it is most important that the nose is always clean and the mucous membrane is healthy.

Sore throat symptoms 

The most common symptoms are a sore throat and trouble swallowing. The pain may spread to the ears, the body temperature may rise, and the lymph glands under the lower jaw and neck may swell. If a sore throat is caused by viruses, the symptoms are usually milder and often associated with a common cold. Sore throat is caused by the Coxsackie virus, and minor aphthous changes can occur on the tonsils and soft palate. If the condition of a sore throat is caused by bacteria from the group of streptococci, the tonsils swell, become coated, intense pain in the throat and bad breath dominate, and the general condition of the patient is bad, accompanied by a high temperature. Streptococcus is the bacteria that causes rheumatic fever, which is a very serious disease that causes joint pain and heart valve damage. Therefore, the treatment of sore throat caused by streptococci is very important to prevent the occurrence of rheumatic fever. 

When should you have a throat swab culture test? 

The smear is a simple and affordable diagnostic method that can be done in a number of laboratories. After 24 hours and after the “first reading”, it is possible to already know if any of the pathogenic bacteria is “growing” and if it needs to be “defeated” with antibiotics.

 When should you see a doctor?

 If the pain in the throat does not decrease, despite the use of analgesics, the help of a doctor should be sought, even if it is not accompanied by an increased temperature. Therefore, if the pain increases after 24 hours from the onset of symptoms (even though the patient is taking painkillers), a doctor’s consultation is required. The examination should not be delayed if the pain in the throat is accompanied by swelling of the lymph glands in the neck.

Should antibiotics be given immediately?

 Any condition of a sore throat is not angina (as is commonly mistaken), especially if it is not accompanied by a high fever. There are many viruses that inflame the throat and cause pain, scratching, redness and difficulty swallowing. In some cases, antibiotics will not help at all, so doctors advise rinsing with warm salt water, drinking plenty of fluids, keeping the air in the room in which you stay moist, frequent ventilation, rest. It is justified to give analgesics, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, which effectively reduce the pain in the throat. It is wrong to think that these drugs will mask the onset of fever, which can be a sign of strep throat. When it comes to the onset of purulent angina, the temperature will rise despite painkillers. Taking antibiotics is justified if done in consultation with a doctor – in order to determine the administration of a drug with optimal effect and control the duration of use of the drug. There are many medical products (sprays, solutions, lozenges) that contain substances to relieve pain and inflammation. They are not antibiotics, but they are useful and help reduce the symptoms of a sore throat. They coat the painful mucous membrane of the throat, reduce the unpleasant sensation, but also have an antiseptic effect and thus reduce the possibility of additional (secondary) infection of the throat.

D-r Vase Stojcheska,

Specijalist otorinolaringolog, JZU GOB 8mi Septemvri” Skopje

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