Sore throat, cold and cough are the most common conditions faced by every individual during their lifetime. Though these problems are nothing to worry about, they may affect your daily activities. These problems normally evade away within a week as these are minor illnesses and can be easily treated at home.
Sore throat and cough- What is the problem?
Sore throats in children are a common viral condition associated with an acute upper respiratory tract infection. There is no magic cure for sore throat infection and one has to wait for it to go away.
Sore throat is an extremely common condition in adults too and may occur due to seasonal allergies, stress or due to too much talking, infection or even a pesky cold.
Most of the cold and sore throat conditions are viral or a simple case of rhinovirus. Other viruses that may cause a sore throat include rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, Coxsackie virus, coronavirus, parainfluenza, influenza, bocavirus and metapneumovirus. These viruses often attack us when our immune systems are weak, which is during winters and rainy seasons. Patients suffering from sore throat often present with nasal congestion, running nose, sore throat, general malaise, cough, and/or low-grade fever.
The viral and bacterial infection results in Inflammation due to the infection caused in the upper airway tract. The local generation of inflammatory mediators, such as prostaglandins and bradykinin, on the site of infection, may stimulate the sensory nerves in the nasopharynx and pharynx to cause sore throat.
Is sore throat a serious condition?
Most cases of sore throat are associated with only minor disturbance and can be treated by self-care, or by using over the counter medicines to help you from the painful sore throat. However, there are certain other causes of sore throat which may occur due to serious conditions like allergies, bacterial infection (strep throat), dry air that leave your throat scratchy, smoking, air pollution, injury to your throat, GERD, and cancer or by sexually transmitted diseases where the immune system becomes extremely weak.
A person suffering from sore throat is often accompanied by other cold symptoms that may
- Sore throat – Characterized by pain, itchiness or a scratch in the throat accompanied by irritation and scratch which often worsens while swallowing.
- Cold – Cold is a condition that includes a runny nose and sneezing which is due to the infection caused in the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the nose.
- Cough – Coughing is a sudden forceful hacking sound created to clear your throat of irritation, mucus or foreign irritants
- Sore throat that results due to viral infection doesn’t require medical treatment and may end in five to seven days.
- However, in some children and young adults who suffer from sore throat may use over the counter medications like analgesics and can use other medications like lozenges and antiseptic gargles.
- Some other proven effective treatment for relieving cold symptoms includes nasal decongestants, zinc, and ipratropium for cough.
- Research has shown Lactobacillus casei to provide beneficial effects in older adults.
- Some proven medicines that are safe and effective to be used in children are acetylcysteine, nasal saline irrigation, and ointment containing menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oils for topical application.
NOTE: Children younger than four years should not be given any over the counter medications for sore throat.
- Drink plenty of fluids, warm water and hot chamomile and garlic tea may also help.
- Informing patients about the self-limited nature of the common cold can help manage expectations
- Apple cider vinegar with its antibiotic use can help treat the sore throat.
- Honey can soothe the throat
- Saltwater gargle may act as anti-inflammatory agent.
- Chewing Licorice root may help alleviate pain and act as analgesic.
- One simple way to provide transmission of these cold viruses includes Counseling patients about the importance of good hand hygiene.
When to See a Doctor-
Sore throat, cough and cold are the most common conditions, both in children and adults. Usually, it doesn’t need any medical care because these are caused by viruses and antibiotics cannot help. Such average cold and cough conditions may just require certain resting time to give your body some time to recover. Most are caused by viruses, which antibiotics can’t treat.
But some coughs and sore throats may pose serious health conditions that require help from a doctor. Some of these conditions include:
- Sore throat and cough that may result in Shortness of breath
- Cough that is associated with bloody mucus or blood while coughing may be a sign for cancer
- Tan color mucus, yellow or green color cough may be a sign of TB.
- Sore throat often associated with Fever, chills, or pain in the chest while inhaling
- If you observe swollen glands and have a sore throat that lasts longer than a week with severe pain
- Swollen glands with white patches which may be a sign for tonsils.
- Rashes on the skin accompanied by runny nose and sore throat may need a doctor as it may be due to allergy.
- Sore throats due to acid reflux and pneumonia or due to sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea all need medical attention.
Even though a sore throat and cough may be seen as normal conditions they may also depict a sign for other serious problems and may need immediate medical attention.