What can you do yourself in case of a sore throat?

Sore throat often occurs when you have a cold. Usually there is a virus that causes both the common cold and a sore throat. There may also be a bacterial infection. The throat feels sore and swollen and it hurts to swallow. Often it is just a matter of getting sick. However, you can do a lot yourself to alleviate the complaints. Just think of an ice-cold drink. What causes a sore throat and what can you do if you suffer from laryngitis?

An infection by bacteria or virus

If it comes on suddenly, it is usually an infection. Most infections are caused by a virus. In that case you often already have a cold. You may also suffer from other symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, hoarseness or chills. You may also suffer from headaches, stiff neck, earache and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Although you may not feel very fit at that moment, it is very likely that you will get better on your own without any further complaints. Viruses are the most common cause.
In a smaller number of cases it is a bacterial infection. There is a good chance that the pathogen is the bacterial species streptococci. The sore throat is then called angina . It starts with a dry, burning pain where the throat feels somewhat swollen. Swallowing is painful and the throat is red. Sometimes if you look closely in the throat, you can see white or yellow patches of thick white mucus. Furthermore, headaches and stomach aches (stomach flu) may occur. Sometimes there is a stiff net and painfully swollen lymph nodes in the neck. In case of bacteria, antibiotic treatment can be given.

Other causes

Sore throat can also be the result of: talking too much, singing or shouting for a long time, smoking too much, too much alcohol, too many hot foods or drinks, or inhaling irritating substances at home or at work. It can also be a symptom of other conditions such as: hay fever, tonsil or gum disease. You can also suffer from throat problems due to excessive use of lozenges or mouthwashes containing disinfectants.


The inflammation of the throat is caused by viruses and/or bacteria affecting the mucous membrane of the pharynx. This causes it to become inflamed, resulting in all the complaints. If your resistance is less, there is a greater chance that the mucous membrane will become inflamed. This can be due to all kinds of reasons, such as stress, illness or malnutrition. For example, cigarette smoke can also damage the mucous membrane. In the event of infection, the body will respond by producing antibodies. This gives you a fever. The viruses and bacteria are eliminated and broken down in the lymph nodes. This is why lymph nodes swell.

What can you do yourself?

Because there is usually a viral infection, there is little you can do about it and all you can do is make sure you get rid of it as best as possible. You should have recovered after two weeks. Get plenty of rest and eat healthy. A virus is difficult to combat. Complaints can be alleviated somewhat. For example, ice or a cold drink can be very soothing to the throat. If swallowing is very painful, try to consume liquid foods such as soup, porridge, custard, cottage cheese and pudding as much as possible. Some dairy products can cause mucus formation in the throat. Drinking small sips of tea with honey, sugar water or licorice water can also have a soothing effect. Sucking on a drop of licorice also helps, although it can be harmful to your teeth if used for long periods of time. Furthermore, it is better to talk as little as possible and avoid dry air. You also have to be careful with cigarette smoke because the smoke irritates the mucous membrane in the throat.

The resources

The complaints are usually worse in the morning. There are no medicines that can cure a viral throat infection. The pain can be relieved with a painkiller. For example, you can take paracetamol. If you still have a severe sore throat, you can use an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen or naproxen. A bacterial infection is usually more serious. The complaints are more severe and in some cases a course of antibiotics is prescribed by the GP.

The resources you should not use

Lozenges for sore throats generally do not work any better than the home remedies mentioned above. Lozenges are actually expensive sweets with the addition of disinfectant and/or local analgesic substances. Local analgesic substances ( lidocaine, ambroxol ) have the most effect, but they also have a mild anesthetic effect on the tongue and the rest of the oral cavity. The substances that actually reach the painful spot in the throat are few. Substances that are also commonly found in lozenges are: chlorhexidine, dequalinium, dichlorobenzyl alcohol and amylmetacresol, cetylpyridine and phenol . These only affect bacteria and not a virus, which is usually the case. Sometimes extra vitamin C is added. This is of no use against a sore throat. The only remedy that may shorten the duration of the sore throat are lozenges containing zinc. However, the effect of this drug has not yet been sufficiently researched and too much use of zinc can also have adverse effects. If you want to use it, do it for a short period of time, so just a few days.

When to go to the doctor?

Sore throat is usually the result of a viral infection accompanied by a cough or cold. Even though you don’t feel well, you usually don’t need to go to the doctor. If you have a fever of more than 38.5 degrees for more than five days, or if you can no longer swallow, are very short of breath or develop spots on the skin, go to the doctor. Red spots can indicate scarlet fever. In addition to a sore throat, there is also swollen and sensitive neck glands, a red face and pink/red spots on the skin. It is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria.

read more

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