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Sore Throat

Woman lying in bed, sore throat | Healthier Me TodayA sore throat is a dry and painful feeling in the throat that causes scratchiness.  The most common symptom is a pain in the throat, especially when trying to swallow saliva or food.

Infections or dry air are usually the causes. Sore throats occur when there is inflammation at the back of the throat. Even though it can be very annoying, it often goes away by itself within three to four days.

Categories of Sore Throats

Sore throats are categorized based on which area of the throat is affected. They are:

  • Pharyngitis: This type of sore throat affects the part right behind the mouth.
  • Tonsillitis: This is the redness and swelling of the tonsils (the soft tissue at the back of the mouth).
  • Laryngitis: This is the irritation and bulging of the larynx or voice box.

Symptoms of Sore Throats 

Symptoms vary due to the myriad of causes. You can feel the following in your throat:

  • Irritation
  • Dryness
  • A burning sensation
  • Tenderness
  • Scratchiness
  • Raw

It becomes much more painful and uncomfortable when you talk or swallow anything. Occasionally, white pus may form on the tonsils, though this symptom is more dominant in strep throat. You can also have symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hoarse voice

Diagnosis of Sore Throats 

To diagnose a sore throat, your doctor will ask what symptoms you are experiencing. Then, they’ll examine the back of your throat with a small light, looking for swelling, redness, and white patches. Your doctor may also feel the sides of your neck to check if you have swollen glands. If your doctor thinks you have strep throat, you will receive a throat culture to diagnose it.

To test for strep throat, the doctor collects a sample by running a swab over the back of your throat. Your doctor will get the result with a fast strep test within a few minutes. The sample will then be sent to a lab to confirm the diagnosis. In rare cases, you will need to conduct more tests to know the cause of the sore throat. It is also advisable to see an otolaryngologist, which is a specialist who treats ear, nose, and throat diseases.

How to Treat Sore Throats

Normally, mild sore throats go away by themselves within 5 days. You can also treat them using home remedies. To alleviate the pain of a sore throat, you should:

  • Get plenty of rest, as to allow your immune system to fight the infection
  • Gargle a mix of warm water and salt (between ½ – 1 teaspoon) twice a day
  • Drink a lot of warm liquids, like tea with honey or warm water with lemon
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase the moisture in the air around you
  • Rest your voice

Besides the home remedies, you can also use medication to relieve sore throats. Over-the-counter medications that help ease the pain are:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen

It is advisable not to give teenagers and children aspirin because it has been linked with Reye’s syndrome, a serious condition that affects the liver and brain. Other treatments are:

  • Cough syrup
  • Throat lozenges
  • Menthol

Immediately see your doctor for treatment if you have:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • A severe sore throat
  • Sore joints
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Blood in your saliva
  • A sore throat that stays longer than a week

How to Manage Sore Throats

Sore throats are not a deadly illness and can be easily managed. Using the home remedies mentioned earlier is the quickest and cheapest way to manage a sore throat. See your doctor when it becomes more serious or occurs often.


  1. What is a sore throat? A sore throat is a dry and painful feeling in the throat that causes scratchiness. The most common symptom of a sore throat is a pain in the throat. Infections or dry air are the most common causes.

2. What are the symptoms of a sore throat? Symptoms range from mild to severe. Common ones include:

  • Irritation
  • Dryness
  • A burning sensation
  • Tenderness
  • Scratchiness

3. What are the causes of a sore throat? The main cause of a sore throat is a virus, like the flu or cold. Bacterial infections are the cause of 1 in 3 cases, with many of those being caused by streptococcus pyogenes. This is also referred to as “strep throat.” 

4. What can I use to treat my sore throat? You can relieve symptoms by getting plenty of rest, gargling a mix of warm water and salt, and drinking a lot of warm liquids. You can also take medications like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen. You should see your doctor in severe cases of sore throats.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!