There’s nothing quite as exasperating as the gnawing, persistent pain of a sore throat. Throat inflammation has many trademark symptoms that creep up on you. These include scratchiness, tenderness and stabbing pain, which may be telltale signs of either a bacterial or a viral infection.

Sometimes, these symptoms may also be accompanied by a fever, a hoarse voice, or joint pain, amongst other symptoms. 

Having a sore throat? Read on to find out what you can do about it, and when you should consult a healthcare professional. You can also seek comfort in some proven home remedies! 

The sooner your throat recovers, the sooner you’ll be able to return to your energetic self. 

What is throat inflammation?

Throat inflammation, known medically as pharyngitis, refers to the inflammation of the pharynx. Your pharynx is located at the back of your throat, between the tonsils and your voice box. It is the swelling of this area that causes pain and difficulty with swallowing.

Pharyngitis may be caused by either a bacterial or a viral infection. 

Most of the time, viral infections are left by doctors to run their course. The medication prescribed for viral infections usually helps to relieve pain and reduce other symptoms, like fever. Healthcare professionals will usually also offer you some general advice, reminding you to stay well-hydrated. 

On the other hand, bacterial infections require that the bacteria plaguing your throat gets treated. In most cases, doctors will prescribe an antibiotic course to treat the bacterial infection that causes your throat inflammation. 

What are the symptoms of throat inflammation? 

Depending on the underlying cause of your throat inflammation, you may encounter a mix of common and accompanying symptoms.

The symptoms of throat inflammation include pain in the throat, pain when swallowing, a feeling of scratchiness in the throat. These common symptoms may also be accompanied by other symptoms which affect other parts of your body. 

Accompanying symptoms may include: 

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain or muscle aches
  • Hoarse voice
  • Swollen lymph nodes that are tender to touch

In addition to an inflamed throat, these accompanying symptoms may indicate a variety of possible underlying conditions. 

Possible underlying conditionSymptoms
Cold or flu
Both of these respiratory conditions have similar symptoms.

Incubation period: Two to five days 

– Inflamed throat
– Runny nose
– Sneezing
– Headache
– Cough
– Fatigue
– Body aches
– Chills
– Fever
Infectious Mononucleosis
This glandular fever is colloquially known as “the kissing disease”, as it can be spread by saliva!

Incubation Period: Between one to two months

– Inflamed throat
– Swollen lymph nodes that are tender to touch
– Muscle aches
– Severe fatigue
– Fever
– Muscle aches
– Loss of appetite
– General discomfort
Strep Throat
This is a type of pharyngitis caused by a bacterial infection. Strep throat accounts only for a small percentage of sore throats.

Incubation period: One to five days

– Difficulty swallowing
– Swollen, red throat with white or grey patches
– Foreign taste in the mouth
– Swollen lymph nodes
– Fever
– Chills
– Loss of appetite
– Nausea
– General discomfort
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
If you’ve been feeling heartburn or acid reflux more than twice a week, you may be diagnosed with GERD. 

GERD is a condition, and so, it doesn’t have an incubation period. 
– Sore throat
– Laryngitis (voice box inflammation)
– Dry, persistent cough
– Wheezing
– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Chest pain
– Upper abdominal pain
– Dental erosion
– Bad breath
Source: Healthline, Medscape, MedicineNet and Medical News Today

With that said, it’s important to note that these symptoms may apply to other conditions as well. In fact, the cause for your throat inflammation may be as simple as dehydration. If you work daily in air-conditioned environments, increasing your water intake could remedy your painful, parched throat.

Most sore throats are not causes for worry, as they subside within three to seven days without any medication.

But when in doubt, it’s best to seek the professional opinion of a doctor. 

Worried if you’re infected with COVID-19 because you’re having a sore throat? Get peace of mind by booking an appointment with MyDoc’s COVID-19 Clinic today. 

So, when should you see a doctor for throat inflammation?

In general, this depends on a number of factors, including your age. 

For adults

You should see a doctor if your sore throat persists for more than a week. Be sure to consult a doctor if you have any of these accompanying symptoms:

  • Pain that hasn’t subsided for more than a week
  • High fever
  • A rash
  • Swelling of the area near the neck and beneath the ears
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing

For children

If you’re the caretaker of a child or an infant, observe them closely for one or more of these symptoms. Any of these symptoms will require the attention of a doctor. 

  • Has trouble swallowing
  • Unwilling to drink or eat
  • Voice sounds muffled
  • Has a stiff neck and difficulty opening their mouth
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Increased drooling (infants and young children)
  • Temperature higher than 38.4ºC
  • Swelling of the area near the neck, and beneath the ears

Food for sore throat: what should you eat? 

A woman holding a cup of warm lemon tea, which can soothe throat inflammation

Sore throats can make eating and drinking a real pain. Fortunately, you can fall back on fluids and food that are easy to swallow. These options will prevent irritating your throat further, while giving your body what it needs.

Plenty of fluids 

This is the easiest and cheapest way to help soothe your sore throat. Staying hydrated can help keep your throat moist. It can also help decrease the mucus secretions on your throat. If you have a fever, it will also help you replenish the fluids that you’ve lost, while keeping your temperature low. 

Drinking cold water and sucking on ice can help alleviate pain, and reduce swelling and inflammation of your throat. More than just keeping you hydrated, cool temperatures can also help reduce congestion.

If you prefer a different kind of comfort, warm water and caffeine-free teas can also soothe your inflamed throat. Warm fluids can also reduce stuffiness, allowing for better drainage of mucus. 

You should avoid fluids that dehydrate you. This means that alcohol and other heavily caffeinated drinks such as coffee and colas are a no-go. 

Warm broth

Drinking warm broth can also help keep your mental and physical resilience at peak when you’re fighting an inflamed throat. Not only are they tasty, but broths also help you keep hydrated and soothe your throat

Depending on your body, you may want to avoid cream-based soups and dairy, as they may heighten some symptoms like the thickness of your phlegm, which may lead you to clear your throat more and worsen your sore throat. Be sure to stick to broths that are lower in salt, as excessive sodium may dehydrate you. 

Lozenges and hard candy

Keep your throat constantly moist by sucking on lozenges and hard candy. They help to stimulate saliva production, keeping your throat moist. 

Some lozenges also contain menthol, which can help numb your throat and provide much-needed temporary relief. 

However, lozenges and hard candy should not be given to children below five years of age, as they can pose a choking hazard.

If you’ve lost your appetite because you’re afraid to swallow, fret not. You can ease your discomfort just by reaching for some of the common ingredients in your kitchen. However, there are also some foods that you should avoid!

Food for sore throatFood to avoid for sore throat

When it comes to food to eat for a sore throat, think of the soft, non-complicated foods.
– Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
– Warm, cooked pasta
– Warm oatmeal
– Yoghurt, plain or with pureed fruits
– Mashed potatoes
– Milk
– Fruit or vegetable smoothies
– Non-acidic juices
– Popsicles
– Honey and water concoctions
– Ginger-infused food or water

When it comes to food to avoid for a sore throat, think of textures and flavours that can irritate your throat. This includes foods with gritty, crumbling textures, and acidic components. 
– Crusty bread
– Crackers
– Soda
– Coffee
– Alcohol
– Dry snacks
– Raw vegetables
– Acidic fruits like grapefruit and lemons
– Spicy seasonings and sauces
– Dairy, if it increases your mucus production
Source: Healthline, Food Network

Check out our tips on the do’s and don’ts when cooking at home. 

Infographic on what to do to speed up recovery of throat inflammation

What else can you do to recover from throat inflammation? 

Apart from prescribed medication, there are also some other things that you can do to find relief at home.

Gargling with warm salt water

Doing this a few times a day can make you feel like you’re giving your throat a fresh start. 

Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then gargle it. Salt pulls the fluids and mucus right out of the tissues in your throat area, temporarily relieving discomfort. 

Use a humidifier or a vapouriser

For an additional comfort for your throat inflammation, you may also use a humidifier or a cool-mist vapouriser. They add moisture to the air, helping to minimise the irritation that dry air causes to your throat. 

Get enough rest

And as with all forms of sickness, it’s important to rest. Proper rest can give your immune system the boost that it needs, and help your body conquer that inflamed throat faster.

No matter how busy you are, you should not take your well-being for granted. 

Thankfully, getting professional healthcare doesn’t need to involve long waiting times. On MyDoc, you can see a doctor in 30 minutes. Plus, you can get your prescription straight from the app and pick up your medication from the nearest Guardian. 

Ready to take control of your health? Get started with MyDoc today. 

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