Sure, we are living in some very unusual times.
More than ever, we need to be careful of our health. Unfortunately almost everyone suffers from a sore throat from time to time. Usually, the discomfort and trouble with swallowing or speaking will clear up on their own, but there are steps you can take to prevent sore throats and recover faster. Some of these tips even apply to today’s new standards of health and safety.
Basic Facts About Sore Throats
1. Recognize the most common cause. Most traditional sore throats are still caused by viral infections like the common cold or flu. They’ll usually go away within a week even without any treatment.
2. Get familiar with more unusual factors. Many other conditions can also affect your throat. If it’s a bacterial infection like strep, you probably will need to take antibiotics. Your doctor may also want to check you for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies and other ailments. Of course, if the symptoms also include a fever and other issues, like losing sense of smell and taste, seek immediate medical advice.
3. Know when to see a doctor. It’s important to make an appointment if your symptoms are severe or last more than a week. A physical exam and throat swab will help to identify what kind of treatment you need, especially if you have a fever, rash or difficulty with breathing. It is highly recommended to wear a mask anywhere, including when visiting a hospital or doctors office.
Preventing and Treating Sore Throats
1. Stay hydrated. Beverages and foods with a high liquid content will help thin out mucus. Enjoy hot tea and soup in the winter or suck on a popsicle if it’s hot outside.
2. Gargle with salt water. Frequent gargling is an effective way to soothe your throat. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth at least once an hour.
3. Use lozenges. Cough drops and over-the-counter lozenges that numb the throat often provide fast pain relief and suppress coughing so you can heal faster. Read the labels for directions and let them dissolve slowly in your mouth.
4. Breathe through your nose. If you usually breathe through your mouth, try to break the habit. Close your lips and focus on taking full breaths from your abdomen. Your nasal passages are designed to filter out pollutants and warm and humidify the air you take in.
5. Avoid tobacco and other irritants. Cigarettes and other tobacco products can irritate your mouth and throat. If you want to quit, talk with your doctor about the best method for you. Spicy foods and dust can also be triggers. Limit your time outdoors on days when you hear the air quality is code orange, red or purple.
6. Surround yourself with moist air. Buy a humidifier or mist the air in your house using the evaporation from a shallow pan of water. Whatever device you use, clean it regularly to keep mold and bacteria from building up.
7. Speak gently. Yelling or talking for a long time can put a strain on your throat and leave you feeling hoarse. Protect your vocal health by pausing often and breathing naturally. Rest your voice as much as possible. Consider speech training if you keep getting laryngitis over and over.
8. Wash your hands. Frequent and thorough hand washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid catching a cold and the accompanying sore throat. Rub your hands with soap and warm water for about 30 seconds and rinse. Use hand sanitizers when no sink is available.
9. Keep your immune system strong. A healthy immune system is also a great defense from any kind of infection. Get plenty of rest, exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. Learn to manage daily stress with techniques like meditation or listening to instrumental music.
10. Wear a mask. Some controversial issues arising over whether wearing a mask is effective or not are still on the table, however, a mask may help prevent the total amount of viruses or bacteria that can enter your breathing area around the face. Although some bacteria or viruses will enter your system regardless, it could give you time to visit the doctor and lessen the infection, as well as preventing the spread of the infection to others you care about in your general vicinity.
An occasional sore throat is usually just a minor symptom that comes along with the common cold. Keep your throat moist and avoid irritants to minimize the discomfort and see your doctor if it lasts longer than a week.