Throat ache can be caused due to a number of conditions. The most common conditions that tend to cause throat pain are pharyngitis and tonsillitis. Pharyngitis or sore throat is a condition characterized by pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that usually worsens when a person tries to swallow. Pharyngitis or sore throat is generally caused by a viral infection such as cold or flu. Tonsils are situated at the back of the throat. They are collections of lymphoid tissue and form a part of the immune system. The tonsils trap germs and prevent them from entering your airways. However, the tonsils sometimes get affected and get inflamed and cause a lot of pain in the throat.
The viral infections that can cause sore throat are common cold, flu, measles, chicken pox, croup and mononucleosis. Although different bacteria can cause sore throat, the most common bacteria is Streptococcus pyogenes. Other causes of sore throat include allergies, irritants, muscle pain, dryness, muscle strain, HIV infection, GERD and tumors.
A sore throat caused by a viral infection normally gets resolved within a week or so. However, there are some medications that a person can take to get relief from the pain. Sore throat caused by bacterial infections can be cured with the use of antibiotics. The treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause.
A doctor will generally check for the symptoms and will check the back of the throat of the affected person for redness, white spots and swelling. The neck could also be examined to see if he/she has any swollen glands. A throat culture is recommended if the doctor wants to check whether a person has strep throat or not.
A doctor may recommend medicines to treat the throat pain or to contain its symptoms. Some medicines that help to treat throat pain and are easily available are acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin. Some other treatments that may help to treat the throat pain are a spray that has a cooling ingredient like menthol or eucalyptus and a numbing antiseptic like phenol, cough syrups and throat lozenges. If throat pain occurs due to GERD, some of the medications that may help to treat it are antacids to neutralize stomach acid, H2 blockers to reduce production of stomach acid and proton pump inhibitirs to prevent the formation of stomach acid.
Tonsillitis caused due to bacteria is generally cured with the help of antibiotics. However, if a person suffers from viral tonsillitis, antibiotics would not help him/her. In that case, the person has to take some precautions and adopt a healthy lifestyle and allow the body to fight off the infection on its own. Sometimes a person may have to undergo tonsillectomy if the tonsillitis is recurrent or persistent.
Tonsillitis, which can cause throat pain, exhibits a number of other side effects as well. They are redness of the tonsils, painful ulcers or blisters in the throat, headache, loss of appetite, white or yellow coating on the tonsils, fever, difficulty in swallowing or breathing, swollen glands in the neck or jaw area and even bad breath. Children may experience nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. A doctor can determine whether a person needs treatment for throat pain by asking a person to take a rapid strep test. Or else a doctor can swab the back of the throat to collect samples and check for signs of bacteria. A person experiencing such symptoms and who has been diagnosed by the doctor as suffering from strep throat or tonsillitis can undergo treatment.
A person who has not experienced the symptoms associated with sore throat or tonsillitis is not eligible. A person may experience throat pain due to a number of different reasons. Thus, a person, who has not been properly diagnosed by a registered medical practitioner, is not eligible for treatment for pharyngitis or tonsillitis.
Penicillin, used to treat strep infection, has a number of side effects. They are nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and headache. A person may also experience white patches inside the mouth or throat and a swollen, black and hairy tongue. Antibiotics in general can cause severe diarrhea and stomach cramps. A person on antibiotics may also experience severe allergic reactions in the lips, tongue, face and throat. Ibuprofen can cause dizziness, nervousness and ringing sensation in the ears in addition to the symptoms already mentioned above. Cough syrups can cause drowsiness, sleep problems, headache and vision problems.
There are a number of guidelines that a person can follow even after he/she has taken medications to deal with throat pain. A person should drink enough fluids to keep the throat moist, include comforting foods broth, caffeine-free tea and warm water with honey to care for the throat and also gargle with salt water. He/she should avoid talking too much, use a cool air-humidifier to keep the air moist and avoid coming in contact with irritants like cigarette smoke and other products. Tonsillectomy is generally performed in children. A child undergoing this surgery should take enough rest and also drink lots of water.
Throat pain due to strep throat can be treated with antibiotics. In this case, the throat pain may subside within 48 hours. A sore throat does not require medications if it is caused by a viral infection. It generally lasts for five to seven days and so the accompanying throat pain will also subside after that period. A child may require about 7-10 days to recover from a tonsillectomy.
Ibuprofen, which is used to treat throat pain, is available within a price range of Rs 15- Rs 230. Tonsillectomy may cost a lot if it is done from a reputed private hospital. The cost of the surgery in such cases will exceed Rs 2 lakhs. Penicillin antibiotic can cost anything between Rs 500 – Rs 1000. Cough syrups to treat throat pain are available within a price range of Rs 100- Rs 200.
Sore throats can be caused due to a number of causes including viral and bacterial infections, allergic reactions to environmental pollutants, dry air, smoke, chemical and other irritants, injury and even tumors. Thus although the bacterial or viral infections can be dealt with quite easily, pain in the throat can recur. This is due to the fact that the triggering mechanisms cannot b controlled so easily. Hence, there are no permanent cures.
One of the easiest ways to treat throat pain is to gargle with warm water. A mixture of ginger, honey and lemon when consumed with a little bit of warm water can do wonders. Other alternative remedies that can help ease throat pain include: slippery elm, licorice root, marshmellow root and honeysuckle flower.
Rs 15 - Rs 2 lakhs