Throat Sore for Winter? Here’s Why & What to Do.
Winter is coming, and along with the cold and wet weather comes colds and the flu. Some people will get symptoms that last much longer than that of the common cold. So when you wake up one morning (or many mornings) with that dreaded sore throat, there are some tried-and-true ways to deal with it.
At Schneiderman ENT, evaluation is often requested for both new and chronic sore throats. Interestingly enough, there are sometimes no symptoms at the time of the visit! Particularly with the chronic sore throats, such episodes may end up being diagnosed as tonsillitis. It is important to really assess this diagnosis before moving forward with procedures like tonsillectomy because there are many other causes of sore throat, and every surgery has its risks.
If it is decided that a tonsillectomy is the answer because the sore throat comes from infection of the tonsils, the actual surgery is not done during the acute infection, but several weeks later. In general, you can expect over a week of discomfort and soft foods after the surgery. Other sources of throat discomfort such as cold or flu, or allergy and reflux should be treated differently.
As sore throats often accompany the cold and flu, it is very important to get the flu shot! Everyone wants to avoid the flu so they don’t spread it to friends and family. Hand hygiene is really important for both staying healthy and not spreading these illnesses. To improve your odds of avoiding the cold or flu even more, generally try to keeping generally fit through exercising and eating well.
If you have a minor sore throat, and even accompanying nasal symptoms like stuffy nose, ear pressure and runny nose, then you can try to use over the counter medications. Some over the counter medications to consider, depending on your symptoms, are pain relievers, decongestants, nasal saline and nasal steroids. Mucinex may help loosen mucus, and a cough suppressant can be helpful for relieving excessive coughing. Often these types of medications can be combined together in the form of liquid or a pill.
While these may help you, if you have a fever and are sick for several days you should go to see your doctor. It can be difficult to tell if you have a bacterial or viral infection, as the symptoms are often the same.
Viral infections can often be treated with medications for the symptoms, without the use of antibiotics. The flu is best treated with administering medication right away, to shorten the duration of the symptoms. When the infection is bacterial and antibiotics are needed, be aware that sometimes stomach upset and diarrhea can occur. As it is possible to become resistant to antibiotics, it is best to only take them as needed, and not for any type of illness.
Generally I do not do a strep test. If the infection seems bad enough, I will treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic. I feel that these medications should be used in reasonable way, not liberally, so if they can be avoided, I will not prescribe antibiotics.
So, when that tickle in your throat becomes a full blown cold, flu or other illness, come to see us at Schneiderman ENT so we can get you back to 100% as soon as possible!