Sore Throat – Is it the Start of a Cold or Something Else?

Senior couple with scarves on ice skating

Having a sore throat can make you feel awful, especially if it is painful and lasting longer than a couple of days. It can be an indicator that a virus has penetrated the system, or it could be a bacterial infection which may need antibiotics to clear. Knowing the difference is important to ensure that you get the most appropriate treatment, if it isn’t ‘just a cold’.

Sore Throat With a Cold

Usually, if a sore throat appears along with a runny nose, it’s more than likely that it is the common cold. The sore throat will disappear after a couple of days, leaving you with the other traditional symptoms of coughing, sneezing, headaches and body aches.

Natural Remedies for a Sore Throat

As with most viruses, plenty of rest is advised. To ease the symptoms of the sore throat, drink plenty of fluids, (including warm liquids) and gargle with salt water. Sucking on ice lollies or cubes helps to numb the throat and make sure you get nutrients into your system by sipping on warm soup. Over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol can help with pain or fever.

Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, which sit at the back of the throat. The tonsils become swollen and sore and will be coated with white spots. The glands in the neck will be swollen and often, the glands in the armpits and between the legs will be tender and swollen too. Tonsillitis can be caused by bacteria or a virus, so if it is bacterial, then the only way to cure it is with antibiotics. This can take around 5-7 days for the infection to clear.

Natural Remedies for Tonsillitis

If  you have viral Tonsillitis, then antibiotics won’t help. Natural relief for the tonsils includes drinking plenty of fluids, cold and warm, along with eating soft, soothing foods, such as yoghurt, ice cream, jelly and warm soup. It is best to avoid anything which is spicy or crunchy, as this may only cause more pain. Ensure that you get enough rest, so that your immune system can fight off the virus.

Senior couple with scarves on ice skating

Strep Throat

Stretoccocus bacteria is what is responsible for Strep throat. It can be transmitted through sneezing or coughing by someone infected. The lymph nodes in the neck will be swollen, along with a fever and a lack of appetite. The tonsils will be red and inflamed, usually accompanied with white spots and swallowing will be extremely painful. It’s important to get a doctor’s diagnosis, as this infection can cause rheumatic fever which can directly affect the heart valves if left untreated.

Remedies for Strep Throat

Unfortunately, the only way to treat Strep throat is with antibiotics. They can begin to work within a few days, but until it is diagnosed there are other ways to relieve the pain. Painkillers can ease the soreness in the throat, as can ice lollies and ice cubes. Bed rest is essential to allow the body to fight off the infection and drinking lots of fluids can hydrate the system.

If your Strep throat does not seem to be improving after taking antibiotics, be aware of the following symptoms and report to a doctor straightaway – earache, headache, skin rash, cough, shortness of breath or chest pain.

Check Your Symptoms

Whenever you get a sore throat, check through the symptoms above so that you can get the correct diagnosis. It could just be a sore throat with a cold, or something that will need more medical attention. Be aware and look after yourself!