Have you woken up this morning with a sore throat and are now contemplating whether it’s bad enough to go to the Doctor, the Pharmacy or to just tough it out with your own home remedies? For the past 8 weeks our family has been plagued by sore throats, there’s been the odd light sore throat which has accompanied the common cold, the very painful sore throat as a result of tonsillitis and there has been glandular fever. Whatever the cause, a sore throat is never a funny thing.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with a sore throat when it strikes, friends and family are often full of helpful advice, information and ‘old wives tales’ but how you do you know what’s real and what’s a myth? Have a read of this handy little guide from Jakemans to set a few of those Sore Throat Myths straight. I am most excited by the discovery of number 6!!
1. Antibiotics relieve most sore throats (MYTH)
Majority of sore throats are caused by viruses and antibiotics are ineffective.
2. Most sore throats are self-limiting and can be treated at home (FACT)
Most sore throats are viral and will normal heal themselves within 5 – 7 days without any prescribed medication.
3. Avoiding dusting and cleaning your house can help relieve sore throats (FACT)
Certain sore throats are caused by allergies, for example dust, pollens or pets. Avoiding these triggers can improve a sore throat.
4. Smoking irritates sore throats (FACT)
Most chemicals in cigarettes can cause or irritate sore throats by thickening mucus and irritating the airways.
5. Ice creams are good for sore throats (MYTH)
Ice creams can soothe a sore throat by reducing inflammation, however, viruses and bacteria grow in a sugar environment and dairy products thicken mucous, hence ice creams can lead to more irritation and worsen a sore throat.
6. Cold weather causes sore throats (MYTH)
Sore throats are caused by virus, although viruses thrive in cold weather, you have a higher chance of getting a sore throat inside a house with someone sneezing than outside in the cold.
7. Alcohol eases sore throats (MYTH)
Although studies show that a moderate intake of alcohol particularly wine may boost the immune system, too much alcohol could lead to dehydration, which has the potential to worsen a sore throat. According to national Institutes of Health (NIH), immunity is reduced as a result of long term frequent alcohol consumption as well as short term, excessive drinking.
8. Lozenges are the only medicine to treat sore throats (MYTH)
There are various forms of medications to treat sore throats including sprays and antiseptic solutions which can be bought in your local pharmacy. Sucking on menthol sweets and lozenges help to soothe a sore throat, easing discomfort and pain symptoms
9. Gargling salt water eases a sore throat (FACT)
Salts absorb water and help reduce inflammation, therefore reducing pain and discomfort. It also washes away excess mucus.
10. Sore throats and tonsillitis are the same thing (MYTH)
The terms sore throat and tonsillitis are usually used interchangeably but they don’t mean the same thing. A sore throat, alongside other symptoms, such as a high temperature, difficulty swallowing, hoarse or no voice and coughing, are symptomatic of tonsillitis.
11. Exercising worsens sore throats (FACT & MYTH):
Studies by the American College of sports medicine show that low to moderate exercises such as walking swimming, stretching, cycling, yoga may be beneficial for sore throats by boosting the immune system. However, high intensity exercise may suppress the immune system and therefore should be avoided during sore throats.
12. Marshmallow improve sore throats (FACT)
Studies show that marshmallow root contains a substance called mucilage which forms a gel with water which coats the throat and reduces irritation. Marshmallows help soothe irritated mucous membranes.
13. Kissing can spread a sore throat (FACT)
Viruses and bacteria are usually contained in saliva and can spread from one person to another through exchange of bodily fluids like kissing.
14. School children are more likely to suffer sore throats than university students (FACT)
Children and teenagers are more likely to develop sore throats than university students because their immune systems against many viruses and bacteria are less developed compared to adults.
15. You don’t need to see a doctor with a sore throat (FACT & MYTH)
Most sore throats are self-limiting and do not require a doctor. However, if your symptoms are more severe, do not heal within two to three weeks then consult your doctor.