What is a sore throat?
When it comes to cold and flu symptoms, a sore throat can be scratchy and painful. You know a sore throat can be agitating, but have you ever wondered what a sore throat is exactly?A sore throat is an inflammation of the pharynx (throat) and surrounding area and is commonly referred to by healthcare providers as “pharyngitis.” It can begin as a scratchy sensation before evolving into full-on pain. Sometimes, it is one of the first signs that you’ve caught a cold or the flu.
What causes a sore throat?
A sore throat is most commonly caused by cold or flu viruses. These viruses trigger inflammation at the infection site (along with the accompanying pain, redness, and swelling), signaling the body to send white blood cells and antibodies into the infected tissues to fight off the viruses. The soreness you feel in your throat is the direct result of this inflammation. Unfortunately, swallowing causes additional friction and pain because the irritated tissues slide over one another. Having a dry throat can also cause your throat to feel sore when you have a cold or flu. For example, if you’re suffering from nasal congestion, you may need to breathe more out of your mouth, which can dry the throat and cause it to feel sore.
How long does a sore throat last?
If your sore throat is caused by a viral infection, it will likely last a few days and clear up on its own. If your sore throat is severe, lasts longer than two days, occurs with or is followed by a fever, headache, rash, nausea, or vomiting, contact your healthcare provider promptly.
How can I prevent a sore throat?
Since most sore throats are the result of cold and flu viruses, the best way to prevent a sore throat is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing drinking glasses or utensils, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
How can I treat a sore throat?
Sometimes, soothing a sore throat can be as simple as drinking something hot or using a cough drop like Vicks VapoDrops. Both are good for a sore throat because they stimulate production of saliva and mucus, both of which are important for maintaining lubrication.
A sore throat can also be treated with analgesics (painkillers) found in over-the-counter medications. NyQuil Cold & Flu and DayQuil Cold & Flu both contain acetaminophen, a pain reliever/fever reducer than can help soothe your sore throat. Although NyQuil and DayQuil do not cure a sore throat, they can help you feel better.