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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Karachi, June 01, 2010 (PPI): A sore throat, or acute pharyngitis, is one of the most common complaints, especially in winter. A sore throat is a symptom of infection, usually viral, or of an irritation of the pharynx - the back portion of the mouth behind the tongue. The irritation may be a local throat infection or the result of post-nasal drip caused by discharge from allergies, sinusitis, or a head cold. Children are especially susceptible to sore throats because their immune systems are not mature enough to fend off flu and cold viruses. They are also exposed to viruses from sneezing and coughing classmates. Sore throats caused by a cold or flu virus are usually self-limiting, and will clear on their own in a few days. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, although their symptoms can be relieved by self-help measures. About 10 to 15 percent of sore throats are caused by bacterial infections, either streptococcus (strep throat) or staphylococcus bacteria. Bacterial infections should be treated with doctor-prescribed antibiotics, rest, and self-treatment. Without a throat culture, differentiation between a viral sore throat and one caused by bacteria is difficult. Almost everyone is susceptible to pharyngitis at one time or another. Frequent episodes can be the sign of underlying disorders or chronic disease such as diabetes, malnutrition, or immune disorders. Sore throats can be caused by many things. Viruses (such as those that cause colds and mononucleosis) can lead to a sore throat. Bacteria (such as those that cause strep throat) can also cause a sore throat, as can smoking, breathing polluted air and allergies to pet dander, pollens and molds. Tonsillitis is when the tonsils (at the back of your mouth on each side of your throat) become infected by bacteria or a virus. It causes the tonsils to swell and can cause a sore throat and other symptoms. Signs of strep throat and tonsillitis are often alike (see the box below). Symptoms of tonsillitis and strep throat: Sore throat, Fever, Headache, White patches in your throat or on your tonsils, Pain when you swallow, Red and swollen tonsils; Swollen, sore glands in your jaw and throat, Abdominal pain (usually in children), and Vomiting (usually in children who have strep throat). If I have tonsillitis, will I need a tonsillectomy? Tonsillectomy is a surgery that removes the tonsils. Most people who have tonsillitis dont need a tonsillectomy. You might need a tonsillectomy if you get severe tonsillitis often or if your tonsils are too large and cause problems with your breathing. Your doctor can tell you if a tonsillectomy is needed. Strep throat is caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus. The pain of strep throat often feels much like sore throats caused by other bacteria or by viruses. Whats important and different about strep throat is that if it isnt treated it can sometimes result in kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can lead to a rash, inflamed joints and, in severe cases, damage to the valves of the heart. Mononucleosis (mono) is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. One of the main signs of mono is a sore throat that may last for 1 to 4 weeks. Other symptoms include swollen glands in your neck and armpits, fever, headache and feeling tired. What tests may be used to find the cause of my sore throat? Your doctor may do a rapid strep test, a throat culture or both. A rapid strep test will give results fast-usually within about 15 minutes. But the test wont tell if your sore throat is caused by a bacterium other than Streptococcus or if its caused by a virus. A throat culture takes longer-between 24 and 48 hours-but its more accurate. If your doctor thinks you may have mono, he or she will probably do a blood test. What is the treatment for a sore throat caused by bacteria? If your sore throat is caused by bacteria, your family doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic. You will most likely begin to feel better in a few days, but it is very important to take all the antibiotics your doctor prescribes. This reduces the risk that your sore throat will return and also helps prevent antibiotic resistance. What is the treatment for a sore throat caused by a virus? Antibiotics dont work against viruses. Infections caused by viruses usually just have to run their course. Most symptoms caused by a cold-type virus go away in a week to 10 days. Symptoms caused by mono can last for 4 weeks or more. If you have mono, your doctor will probably suggest that you get plenty of rest and that you not exercise too hard. You can take acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol), ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) or naproxen (one brand name: Aleve) for the sore throat, headache and fever. What about a sore throat thats caused by allergies? If a sore throat is a symptom of hay fever or another allergy, your doctor can help you figure out how to avoid the things that trigger your allergies. You may also need to take medicine for your allergies. How can I avoid catching or passing a sore throat? The best ways to avoid catching or passing the viruses and bacteria that can lead to a sore throat are to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes or mouth and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Easing the pain of a sore throat: Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain. Gargle with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup [8 ounces] of water). Suck on throat lozenges or hard candy. Suck on flavoured frozen desserts. Use a humidifier in your bedroom or other rooms you spend lots of time in. Drink lots of liquids. They help keep your throat lubricated and prevent dehydration.


Source Citation
"Health: Hand washing best way to avoid catching sore throat." Philippines News Agency 1 June 2010. General Business File ASAP. Web. 15 June 2010.
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