The throat area is the access port for most pathogens into our body. That's why this is precisely where we have the most intensive monitoring and defence system: The tonsils along with the mucosa form a substantial ring of defence. As soon as the immune cells found there are activated, they work at full speed, which makes itself felt through swelling and inflammation. Angina can result – angina means "tightness". The throat inflammation usually occurs together with swallowing difficulties and hoarseness. Furthermore, the lymph nodes in the neck and around the lower jaw are commonly swollen. Other mucous membranes usually swell subsequently: The cold has taken up residence. It then typically progresses down the airways: bronchitis develops.
Why is there usually a sore throat first of all and then a cold?
Why do you get a sore throat and what happens in the throat?
A sore throat is typically one of the first signs of an infectious cold. But it can also be a symptom of a variety of diseases. They are most commonly triggered by colds, that is so-called flu-like infections. Typical symptoms include a cough, cold or hoarseness. Pathogens usually establish themselves in the nose and throat first of all. Many people do not notice a slight runny nose – however, they do notice the unpleasant scratchy throat. Thus, a sore throat is often perceived to be the first sign of the onset of a cold. Pain develops because the immune cells also release pain transmitters when there is inflammation, for example bradykinins and prostaglandins.
Other causes besides a cold or flu can trigger a sore throat e.g.:
- Infectious diseases: Scarlet fever, diphtheria, Mumps
- Glandular fever
- Irritated respiratory tract due to smoking, dusty air, toxic fumes or
- Thyroid diseases
Do I need to go to the doctor with a sore throat?
Usually it is not necessary to go to the doctor with a sore throat as the sore throat from the cold improves after a few days. If these have not disappeared after about a week, it is advisable to go to the doctor. There is an urgent need to go to the doctor immediately if the sore throat is accompanied by a variety of other symptoms such as a high fever, breathlessness, a tight chest or chest pain. It is also important to do this if the person affected suddenly becomes hoarse or is extremely hoarse. If children complain of a bad sore throat, you should always consult a paediatrician.
The doctor will perform a detailed examination of the neck and throat area. Thereby, they can determine, for example, whether the palatal tonsils are inflamed and which pathogen is causing the disease. The lymph nodes are also examined to see if they are swollen. It may be necessary to take antibiotics.
What should you do when you have a sore throat?
The cause of the sore throat must be clarified first of all. Should the sore throat not be due to a cold or flu, the treatment depends on the causes. Vocal training with a speech therapist may be helpful for overuse of the vocal cords. The administration of antibiotics may be necessary for bacterial inflammation.
How can you relieve a sore throat without medications?
Many home and natural remedies have proven themselves for generations for a sore throat. They have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce swelling thus relieving a sore throat and swallowing difficulties.
It is always important to drink plenty so that the mucous membranes remain moist. Warm teas that are not hot are often preferred. For example, teas with sage, thyme and chamomile. Also a teaspoonful of honey – in the tea or on its own – can be soothing.
Gargling can also be helpful. Salt water, sage or chamomile tea are suitable for this. The tea for this should be strong and have drawn for a long time. For the salt water, add a quarter teaspoon of salt to 0.2 litres lukewarm water.
As swallowing is commonly difficult, lukewarm foods that are not too dry are good. Soups provide the body with fluid, are pleasantly warming and can be prepared with plenty of fresh vegetables and lean meat to boost the immune system and prevent the body from being overloaded.
Packs for a sore throat
Throat packs are a rewarding measure for relief of symptoms. For cooling throat packs, a tea towel is e.g., coated with quark and placed around the throat. A dry towel or a wool scarf is wrapped around this. The moist poultice should be allowed to work for around 20 to 30 minutes. If warmth helps, freshly cooked, still hot, mashed potatoes can be used – but be careful: Danger of burning especially with children – potatoes retain heat very well.
Is it possible to prevent a sore throat?
To prevent a sore throat from developing, you should already take action at the first sign of a scratchy throat. Drink plenty, preferably teas with sage, thyme or chamomile. Warmth in the throat area helps! Make sure the humidity is sufficient in the air (avoid air conditioning, clothes horse in the bedroom). Also boost your immune system with short walks in the fresh air, alternate showers and vitamin C. They can support the lymph system because the lymph and immune system form one unit.