Sore Throat Myths
People have been suffering from sore throats for centuries and over the years we have heard our fair share of age-old tales on how sore throats are caused and how to treat them.
With so much information available, working out a suitable way to treat a sore throat can be difficult. We’re here to try to set the record straight.
Read on to find out whether the facts are truth or myth when it comes to sore throats.
#1: All sore throats are caused by streptococcal infections (STREP)
Myth! There are many different causes of sore throats – and believe it or not they don’t all stem from strep. Strep is the result of a bacterial infection in your throat. However, the common cold virus is a cause of many sore throats. In fact, 9 out of 10 sore throats are caused by viruses - not bacteria. Remember that antibiotics will not help if you have a viral sore throat. If you are concerned about your sore throat your pharmacist should be the first point of call for advice. If your symptoms persist or worsen you may want to consider booking an appointment with your local GP.
#2: If you just have a sore throat, you don’t have to see a doctor
Myth! In most cases you should be able to treat your sore throat at home without seeing a doctor, however there are exceptions. If you are worried about your sore throat, your pharmacist will be able to offer you advice on treatment. Sore throats can be caused by a variety of things, such as angina and a range of infectious diseases, so if your symptoms worsen or persist after visiting your pharmacist, you may need to see a doctor who will be able to get to the root of the problem and recommend the best course of action to get you feeling better as soon as possible.
#3: Warming the throat
Truth! Although some of the concoctions you read about often don’t sound too appealing, there are other options. Something as simple as adding honey to your tea could help relieve the pain but this isn’t your only option. Wrap a warm compress (such as a heating pad, hot water bottle or a warm damp cloth) around the outside of your throat to help provide relief from the outside in.
#4: You can get a sore throat simply from cold air
Myth! Many people know you can only catch a cold from the cold virus and the same applies for when your only symptom is a sore throat. Viruses or bacteria only spread when you come into contact with them but people are often confused as cold, flu and sore throats tend to be common during the colder months. However, cold air is generally dryer and therefore dries out the mucosa in the throat, which makes it easier for germs to enter and multiply. In this way, cold air can contribute to an infection - but it is not the only reason for your sore throat or cold.
#5: Gargling salt water can help to soothe a sore throat
Truth! Gargling with salt water might not be the most pleasant taste but your grandma was right because it really can help to soothe a sore throat. It’s thought the saltwater can help to flush out irritants, reduce swelling and loosen mucus in the throat, helping to provide effective relief for a sore throat – just make sure you don’t swallow any! Adults suffering with a sore throat should add half teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle throughout the day to help soothe a sore throat.
#6: Feed a cold and starve a fever
Myth! It’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to recover when you’re ill - so the saying feed a cold and starve a fever isn’t strictly true. Having a sore throat is a common side effect of a cold and the pain of swallowing could leave you feeling like you don’t want to eat. It’s also not uncommon to lose your appetite for a few days if you are struck down with the flu, but you should try to keep your energy up by sipping lots of clear fluids and eating nutritional foods where possible. Why not try having chicken soup instead? As well as giving you some much needed nutrients, the act of swallowing will actually help to keep your throat moist (which can aid recovery).
#7: You cannot prevent a sore throat
Myth! It’s not always possible to avoid but there are a few things you can do to help prevent getting a sore throat. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water (especially if you have been around someone who is unwell) is a good preventative measure, helping to limit the spread of illness causing viruses and bacteria. Making sure you look after yourself by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough rest is another good way to keep your body in tip top condition, ready to fight off potential illness.
#8: Children are less likely to suffer from sore throats
Myth! Children (and teenagers) are often more likely to suffer from sore throats as the result of cold or flu because they are still building up their immunity against many of the bacteria and viruses which are responsible for causing sore throats. On average children suffer from colds five times a year, compared to adults who get colds two to three times a year which could result in a sore throat.
#9: A warm bath can help provide relieve from cold, flu & sore throat
Truth! Nothing quite beats a long warm bath at the end of the day, especially if you are run down or not feeling 100%. As well as helping you relax before getting into bed, taking a bath has an added bonus if you’re suffering from congestion as the result of cold, flu or a sore throat. The steam and humidity of the bath can help soothe swollen tissue and loosen the build-up of mucus in your nose and throat, therefore easing the discomfort of sore throat.
#10: Eating an ice lolly can help soothe a sore throat
Truth! Licking an ice lolly can provide temporary relief from a sore throat. Not only will the cool temperature help ease the pain of a swollen throat, but the act of swallowing will also help to soothe your throat because saliva is a natural lubricant. However, keep in mind that this method won’t soothe your throat for as long as a medicated lozenge, such as Strepsils.
If you are suffering from a sore throat and are looking for fast, effective relief, steer clear of the myths. Instead, try Strepsils medicated lozenges. Strepsils Honey & Lemon Lozenges contain a combination of two effective antiseptics to relieve the discomfort of sore throats for up to two hours. Always read the label.
If your sore throat does not improve or gets worse, contact your pharmacist or GP for more information.
Directions: one lozenge every 2-3 hours up to a maximum of 12 lozenges in 24 hours. Not suitable for children under 6 years.
All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. In all health matters for further information or medical advice, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist. UK/SP/1117/0021h.
*Strepsils Honey and Lemon. For the symptomatic relief of mouth and throat infections. Always read the label.