It’s that time of year when viral bugs are doing the rounds and many of us are feeling under the weather. Colds and Sore throats are common and not usually serious. Most people will have at least two or three during the winter season. Children and teenagers are more likely to get sore throats than adults. Most colds and sore throats will clear up by themselves in under a week. Unfortunately approximately 90% of sore throats are viral in origin and so antibiotics are not effective in treating them. Many colds and sore throats can linger for 2 weeks or more and we can keep on top of symptoms with over-the-counter pain relief. Here are some tips for easing a sore throat:
Tips for Easing a Sore Throat
• Rest: Rest your body and rest your voice.
• Drink fluids. Fluids keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you. Dioralyte sachets are an excellent way of keeping you or your child's hydration levels up.
• Try comforting foods and beverage. Warm liquids — broth, caffeine-free tea or warm water with honey — and cold treats such as ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
• Gargle with salt water. A saltwater gargle of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt to 4 to 8 ounces of warm water can help soothe a sore throat. Gargle the solution and then spit it out.
• Humidify the air. Use a cool-air humidifier to eliminate dry air that may further irritate a sore throat or sit for several minutes in a steamy bathroom.
• Consider lozenges (non-medicated eg soothers or medicated eg strepsils or bronchostop). Either can soothe a sore throat, but don't give them to children age 4 and younger because of choking risk.
Sore Throats Caused by a Viral Infection
A sore throat caused by a viral infection usually lasts five to seven days and doesn't require medical treatment. However, to ease symptoms, pain and fever, paracetamol is good for bringing down the temperature and the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen is good for sore throats.
If your symptoms are more severe, ask our pharmacist about combination painkillers which can help get you through the worst of it (eg gargling solpadeine soluble or taking Nurofen plus can help ease a severe sore throat).
Sore Throats Caused by a Bacterial Infection
If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection (eg strep throat, characterised by a high fever), your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. You must take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed even if the symptoms are gone. Failure to take all of the medication as directed can result in the infection worsening or spreading.
Coughs can often accompany a cold or sore throat. There is no quick way of getting rid of a cough. It will usually clear up after your immune system has defeated the bug that is causing it. The simplest and cheapest way to ease a tickly or chesty cough is with over-the-counter cough medicine, an expectorant (eg exputex) for chesty coughs or cough suppressant (eg benylin dry cough or codinex) for a dry, tickly, irritating cough. Keeping on top of symptoms with over-the-counter pain medication can help get you through the worst of it.
Ask Castletown Pharmacy for Advice on Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats
Call in and have a chat with our pharmacist anytime for helpful advice on easing your symptoms