Sore Throat - Treatment
For the vast majority of sore throats, there are no treatments to cure the disease. These cases of sore throat are caused by viruses, against which there are few medications. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial sore throats. But they will have no effect on viral sore throats.
The usual medication prescribed for bacterial sore throats is penicillin. Penicillin can be given either as a single injection or a series of pills. The pills must be taken for ten days. If a patient does not take the full course of pills the infection may return.
A number of treatments are available for the symptoms of sore throat. These include rest, a healthy diet, plenty of fluids, restrictions on heavy exercise, and a variety of drugs. The drugs that are usually recommended are aspirin, acetaminophen (trade name Tylenol), or ibuprofen (trade names Advil, Motrin). These medications reduce pain and fever that accompany a sore throat.
Chronic sore throat requires a somewhat different treatment. In many cases, the sore throat is not caused by an infection. Instead, it may be produced by some environmental condition. People who work around chemicals, for example, may have chronic sore throats. In such cases, it may be necessary to change the patient's working conditions in order to provide relief for the sore throat.
Home Care for Sore Throat
Sore throat is usually not a very serious disease. It can be treated most effectively with some simple remedies available in the home, including:
- Taking aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen for pain. But children should not be given aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome (see Reye's syndrome entry).
- Gargling with warm tea or warm salt water
- Drinking plenty of fluids but avoiding fruit juices
- Eating soft, nutritious foods, such as noodle soup, and avoiding spicy foods
- Refraining from smoking
- Resting until the fever is gone
- Increasing the humidity of a room with a room humidifier
- Avoiding the use of antiseptic lozenges and sprays, which are likely to make the condition more uncomfortable
Alternative practitioners recommend a variety of natural products for the treatment of sore throat. For example, aromatherapists recommend inhaling the fragrances of lavender, thyme, eucalyptus, sage, and sandalwood. Herbalists recommend taking osha root, ginger, or slippery elm. Some practitioners suggest gargling with a mixture of water, salt, and tumeric. Homeopathic practitioners treat sore throats with very dilute solutions of Lachesis, Belladonna, Phytolacca, yellow jasmine, or mercury. Nutritionists recommend vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A or C and the mineral zinc.