Sore throats are common at any age, and everyone likely experiences sore throat symptoms in their lifetime. The itching, scratchy, and burning feeling in your throat, often accompanied by cold symptoms. In other words, sore throats can be miserable, which is why first aid treatment is a must.
What is a sore throat?
A sore throat is a condition where your throat hurts, is irritated, or scratchy. It may bring mild discomfort, but it may feel worse when you swallow.
Sore throats are very common, especially in smaller children and teenagers. They are mostly caused by viruses and bacteria from what we eat and the environment we are exposed to. In these cases, the person can get better by themselves with no treatment required other than pain relief.
However, there are some sore throats you should carefully look out for, such as strep throat. Strep throat is caused by a bacteria or germ called streptococcus. The doctor can treat it with antibiotics, but in a few cases, strep throat can lead to more serious illnesses such as rheumatic fever.
Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the cause of your sore throat, general symptoms may include:
- Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat area.
- White spots on your throat or tonsils
- Difficulty swallowing
- Red, swollen tonsils
- Swollen glands in your neck or jaw
- A hoarse or muffled voice
First Aid Relief for Sore Throat
Try to avoid being around anyone who’s sick.
Gargle with saltwater
Many nose and throat doctors recommend gargling with salt water twice or thrice a day to help soothe a scratchy throat. The salt in the water can pull out the mucus of the swollen, inflamed tissue bringing relief to the person.
Saltwater gargles are easy and affordable to make as you will only need two ingredients – salt and warm water. Combine ¼ to ½ teaspoon of table salt with 4-8 ounces of warm water and stir it until the salt dissolves. Gargle for several seconds and, after a few seconds, spit it out. Repeat the saltwater gargle several times every day.
Take over-the-counter pain medication. Common medicines for itchy throat are OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as Ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). These can reduce inflammation and swelling and can also relieve soreness.
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated is an important part of sore throat first aid. When a person is dehydrated, the body cannot produce enough saliva and mucus to keep the natural lubrication in the throat. It can worsen the swelling and inflammation within the area.
Water is always a good choice, but you can also consider lemon drink, tea, or any drink with honey in it.
Cold Foods or Application
Many people find throat relief from sucking on popsicles or eating cold foods such as ice cream. If you have swollen glands on the neck or near the jaw, applying ice can help.
If the pain does not improve after these steps, it is best to see your doctor. Seek medical assistance if you suffer from severe pain when swallowing, develop a high fever, or experience nausea or vomiting.
As with most common illnesses, preventing a sore throat starts with maintaining good hygiene. Practice regular handwashing or use an alcohol-based sanitiser. Do this right after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards or after doing handshakes. Stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing without covering their mouth as much as possible.
Try to avoid being around anyone who is sick. Avoid sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes, water filters, and food utensils with anyone else. But the most important thing in preventing sore throat is eating right, sleeping well, and regular exercise.
Enrol in a First Aid Course to learn more on first aid relief for sore throats and other emergencies.