What’s causing my sore throat?

A sore throat is frequently the result of a minor illness caused by a virus or bacteria. Sore throats are usually characterized by redness in the throat as well as swollen tonsils that secrete pus.

One of the most frequent causes is the common cold, one of the most widespread viral infections. Other viral causes can include infection to the voice box (laryngitis), mononucleosis or other viral infections including influenza (flu). Bacterial causes can include strep throat, tonsillitis, and inflammation of the epiglottis or of the uvula. Environmental pollutants like smoke, humidity or air pollution can also irritate throats, as can yelling, breathing through the mouth because of nasal congestion, post-nasal drip or acid reflux.

Could I have allergies?

Seasonal allergy symptoms often include swollen nasal passages and/or post nasal drip, both of which can result in throat irritation and coughing. Environmental factors like air quality can also aggravate the throat and cause irritation. If you have a sore throat or cough, being in places with lots of smoke, dust or other airborne irritants is probably a bad idea.

What can I do to make my throat feel better?

There are a number of home treatments that can be quite helpful in resolving a sore throat caused by a viral or bacterial infection. One of the easiest is to gargle with 1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water. This will help reduce swelling and help ease discomfort. A salt–water gargle will also help ease the effects of post–nasal drip. Warm liquids, such as soup or tea, can often help thin secretions in the throat and help ease irritation.

Oral or nasal decongestants can help reduce the amount of mucus drainage and allow for clearer breathing through the nose, potentially reducing throat irritation. Also, consider placing a cool mist or warm water humidifier in your bedroom overnight. This can help add moisture to the air and will lessen irritation in your throat from breathing through your mouth.

How can Sucrets® help my sore throat?

Sucrets® lozenges contain dyclonine, an oral anesthetic, that can help ease the pain and irritation of a sore throat.

When should I go to the doctor for my sore throat?

If your sore throat is severe, lasts for more than two days, occurs with or is followed by fever, headache, rash, nausea, or vomiting, or if other sore mouth symptoms last more than 7 days, or irritation, pain, or redness continues or worsens you should visit your doctor. These are signs that could point to strep throat or another more serious condition.

What can my doctor do to help?

If the infection is bacterial, your doctor may be able to prescribe antibiotics to shorten the length of the infection and help your throat heal faster.

How do I know if I have strep throat?

Strep throat is highly contagious and can be spread by water droplets that become suspended in the air when an infected person breathes, sneezes or coughs. However, coughing and sneezing rarely accompany strep. The most common strep throat symptoms are a sudden, severe sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever over 101°F, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes and white or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat. If you think you have strep, visit your doctor. For strep throat, a doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics that will shorten the amount of time you are contagious and stop the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.

Can I go to work or send my child to school with a sore throat?

Colds and infections like strep throat are easily spread in close quarters like offices and schools, so it is usually not recommended that you go to work or send your child to school with a sore throat. The recent outbreak of the swine flu (H1N1) virus has made schools and workplaces much more vigilant about asking employees and students to stay home if they are sick to reduce the potential of spreading the dangerous virus. Check your workplace’s or school’s policies regarding sick days for more information.