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Useful Information On Sore Throats

Frequent and recurrent sore throats are common, especially in children between the ages of 5 and 10. There is no evidence that removing the tonsils decreases this frequency; therefore, tonsillectomy surgery is performed less commonly than in the past.

Sore throats can be caused by either viruses or bacteria. The majority of sore throats are caused by viruses; therefore, treating all sore throats with antibiotics (which can't cure viruses and can be unnecessarily expensive) would needlessly expose people to the risks of adverse reaction to the drugs.

The group A streptococcus bacterium is responsible for most cases of streptococcal illness.

Some of the major syndromes associated with group A strep infection are streptococcal pharyngitis or "strep throat" and scarlet fever, most often preceded by a sore throat.

Strep Throat

The signs and symptoms of strep throat are red, sore throat with white patches on tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in neck, fever, and headache. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain more common in children.

The illness is spread by direct, close contact with patients via respiratory droplets (coughing or sneezing). Casual contact rarely results in transmission. Rarely, contaminated food, especially milk and milk products, can result in outbreaks. Untreated patients are most infectious for 2 - 3 weeks after onset of infection. Incubation period, the period after exposure and before symptoms show up, is 2 - 4 days. Patient is no longer infectious within 24 hrs. after treatment begins.

Antibiotic treatment will reduce symptoms, minimize spread (transmission), and reduce the likelihood of complications. Treatment consists of penicillin (oral drug for 10 days; or single intramuscular injection of penicillin G). Erythromycin is recommended for penicillin-allergic patients. Second-line antibiotics include amoxicillin, clindamycin, and oral cephalosporins.

Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)

Scarlet fever is a streptococcal infection that occurs most often in association with a sore throat and rarely with impetigo or other streptococcal infections. It is characterized by sore throat, fever and a rash over the upper body that may spread to cover almost the entire body.

Persons with scarlet fever have a characteristic rash that is fine, red, rough-textured and blanches upon pressure. Scarlet fever also produces a bright red tongue with "strawberry" appearance. The skin often "desquamates," or peels, after recovery, usually on tips of fingers and toes.

The illness is spread by the same means as strep throat.

Other than the occurrence of the rash, the treatment and course of scarlet fever are no different from those of any strep throat.

Infectious Mononucleos

Known popularly as "mono" or "the kissing disease" -- has been recognized for more than a century. An estimated 90 percent of mononucleosis cases are caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the herpesvirus group. Most of the remaining cases are caused by certain other herpesviruses, particularly cytomegalovirus.

Symptoms may take between two and seven weeks to develop after exposure to the virus and can last a few days or as long as several months. In most cases, however, they disappear in one to three weeks. In fact, mononucleosis symptoms may be nonexistent or so mild that most people are not even aware of their illness.

Symptoms may include a general complaint of "not feeling well," headache, fatigue, chilliness, puffy eyelids, and loss of appetite. Later, the familiar triad of symptoms appears: fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, especially at the side and back of the neck, but also under the arm and in the groin. A fever of 101F to 105F lasts for a few days and sometimes continues intermittently for one to three weeks. (High fever late in the illness suggests bacterial complications.) The swollen lymph glands, varying in size from that of a bean to a small egg, are tender and firm. Swelling gradually disappears over a few days or weeks. The spleen is enlarged in 50 percent of mononucleosis patients, and the liver is enlarged in 20 percent. Tonsillitis, difficulty in swallowing, and bleeding gums may accompany these symptoms.

Usually, mononucleosis is an acute, self-limited infection for which there is no specific therapy. For years, standard treatment was bed rest for four to six weeks, with limited activity for three months after all symptoms had disappeared. Today, doctors usually only recommend avoiding strenuous exercise. One real hazard of uncomplicated mononucleosis is the possibility of damaging one's enlarged spleen. Therefore, the patient should avoid lifting, straining, and competitive sports until recovery is complete. A person should limit other activity according to symptoms and how he or she feels.

Treatment of the acute phase of the illness is symptomatic and nonspecific because there is no specific drug treatment for mononucleosis. Rest, plenty of fluids to guard against dehydration, and a well-balanced diet are recommended. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, and they should not be prescribed for mononucleosis itself. Some patients with mononucleosis also develop streptococcal (bacterial) throat infections, which should be treated with penicillin or erythromycin. Ampicillin (a form of penicillin) should not be used.

Flu

Influenza, or flu, is an acute respiratory infection caused by a variety of influenza viruses. Viruses that cause flu spread primarily from person to person, especially by coughing and sneezing (via airborne droplets of respiratory fluids). Flu viruses can enter the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. After a person has been infected with the virus, symptoms usually appear within 2 to 4 days. The infection is considered contagious for another 3 to 4 days after symptoms appear.

Flu is usually signaled by headache, chills, and dry cough, which are followed rapidly by body aches and fever. Typically, the fever starts declining on the second or third day of the illness. It is then that the upper respiratory symptoms become noticeable - nasal congestion and sore throat.

Once a person has the flu, treatment usually consists of resting in bed, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking medication such as aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve fever and discomfort. Children with flu should not take aspirin. Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses.

The Common Cold

Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose - everyone knows the first signs of a cold, probably the most common illness known. Although the common cold is usually mild, with symptoms lasting a week or less, it is a leading cause of doctor visits and of school and job absenteeism.

Symptoms of the common cold usually begin two to three days after infection and often include nasal discharge, obstruction of nasal breathing, swelling of the sinus membranes, sneezing, sore throat, cough, and headache. Fever is usually slight but can climb to 102o F in infants and young children. Cold symptoms can last from two to 14 days, but two-thirds of people recover in a week. If symptoms occur often or last much longer than two weeks, they may be the result of an allergy rather than a cold.

Only symptomatic treatment is available for uncomplicated cases of the common cold: bed rest, plenty of fluids, gargling with warm salt water, petroleum jelly for a raw nose, and aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve headache or fever. Many people are convinced that taking large quantities of vitamin C will prevent colds or relieve symptoms.

Cancer

Between 90 and 95 percent of all oral cancers arise from the cells that line the mouth. Most of the sores, lumps and red or white patches seen or felt in the mouth are not cancer. However, the signs and symptoms of oral cancer are the same as conditions commonly found in the mouth. These signs are easy to see and feel, and easy to watch. If irritations do not heal within a couple of weeks, they should be looked at by a dentist or health care practitioner. Symptoms of persistent sore throats, sores under dentures, difficulty chewing or swallowing or a lump on the neck also require medical evaluation.

Cancer cells growing at these sites may spread to the neck's lymph nodes and the jaw bones if left undetected. Oral cancer is one of the easiest cancers to detect.

Approximately 75% of oral cancer cases are caused by smoking or prolonged use of smokeless tobacco. The combination of regular alchohol consumption and smoking is also a factor. Four times as many smokers as opposed to non-smokers die from oral cancer. Pipe and cigar smokers have an increased risk of cancer of the lip. When tobacco users also use alchohol regularly, their chance of developing oral cancer is greater.

Participate in your own care! Cancer can be beaten!

Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis

The causes of acute pharyngitis is almost always infection. Of course, trauma or injury due to chemicals (lye) or radiation can also cause inflammation of the pharynx. For definition sake, the tonsils, which are lymphatic glands, are located within the anatomical oropharynx. Thus, tonsillitis is a subset of pharyngitis. For example, even if one has had his tonsils removed, one can still develop pharyngitis.

The most common symptom of pharyngitis or tonsillitis is sore throat. Dysphagia (pain with swallowing) is also a common symptom of these conditions. Examination of the oropharynx with a pen light will usually show exudate, erythema (redness), mucosal congestion and enlargement of the tonsils (if they are present.)

Bacterial causes of sore throat are usually treated with antibiotics. Penicillin derivatives, cephalosporins, and erythromycin can all be utilized to treat suspected bacterial pharyngeal infections. A course of antibiotics must be fully completed to help prevent the development or resistant strains.

Naturaral Treatment and Comfort Measures

Gargle with warm salt water. It help soothe the irritated throat and reduces swelling in the tissues. This is the safest, least expensive and probably the most effective treatment of a sore throat. Mix 1/2 tsp. of salt to an 8 oz. cup of warm water. Dissolve it completely. Gargle every 3 - 4 hours.

Sipping warm liquids like hot tea or hot chicken soup broth can soothe the throat, and the heat increases the circulation to the throat to promote healing. The saltiness of the soup also helps to reduce swelling, much like a salt water gargle.

Hard candy can also soothe and lubricate your throat.

Rest your voice. Avoid using your voice for long periods, and refrain from screaming or yelling.

Stop smoking or at least cut down. Cigarette smoking may cause a sore throat, or may aggravate your symptoms by causing further throat irritation.

Humidity will keep your throat moist and more comfortable. It can relieve a raw, dry, scratchy sore throat. Hot, dry air will aggravate it. So, turn down the thermostat, use a vaporizer if you have one, place a pan of water by the heat vent, or turn on a hot shower to create steam.

Cherry sore throat lozenges contain Benzocaine which numbs the throat tissues temporarily and make swallowing easier.

The following Combinations are those recommended for a sore throat:-

Vitamins :- A, C (frequent large doses)

Minerals :- Nat Mur (Dry throat), Zinc Lozenges, Potassium Chloride & Iron Phosphate

Food Supplements :- Acidophilus, Propolis, Rutin + Bioflavonoids, Liquid Chlorophyll

Herbs :- Fenugreek, Horseradish, Slippery Elm Lozenges, Echinacea, Golden Seal, Garlic

Time is the most important healer for sore throat pain. If the sore throat is caused by a virus, it will clear up on its own. Cold liquids and over-the-counter pain medications are effective in treating the pain. Aspirin should be avoided in children under 15 years old (because of the risk of Reye's syndrome). Home remedies such as gargling salt water, or drinking honey or lemon tea may help. Analgesic sprays and lozenges may be administered; however, they may make the pain of strep throat worse instead of better.

The nutrients mentioned above reflect the major nutritional supplements that may help the condition. Please do remember however that nutritional supplementation is an adjunct to medical treatment and in no way replaces medical treatment.

Discuss It!

Swapnil ·

Hi I am 25 years old and have been diagnosed with a chronic pharyngitis and am suffering from past 5 weeks. Now most of the problems are solved and the throat is healing well. I have never smoked nor I drink alcohol nor do i chew tobacco. But I have a habit of eating spicy foods. Can I have any sort of Cancer in future?



Rahul ·

I have pharyngitis too ...i eat a lot of spicy food and i dont smoke drinks etc...i want to discuss more plz email me .... rash200899@gmail.com ok...plz



Trish ·

Hi I was treated for strep throat but a day or 2 after starting meds I develop a chronic dry cough which is not going away its making my chest hurt now and I'm losing my voice it is now day 6 of taking the meds sore throat is gone after day 2 of meds but why is the cough not going away



Trish ·

I also have a snotty nose still it looks clear most of the time and my ears are starting to have pain could you please e mail me with information.. thank you trishleon123@aol.com



Karen Mae ·

What are the food can be take by a person having acute pharygitis?Please email me karenmae_nolasco 'yahoo.com.Thanks.