We all know just how painful sore throats can be, and they are one of the most common reasons that people turn to their doctors. In fact, around 13 million people visit their doctor each year for a sore throat. From infections to trauma, there are many reasons why someone may deal with a sore throat. As osteopathic physicians, our main goal is to discover preventive measures you can take to prevent sore throats based on what we uncover about your environment, lifestyle, and habits.
What causes a sore throat?
Sore throats are incredibly common and most of the time it isn’t something that should cause too much concern. Common causes of a sore throat include,
- Common cold
- Air pollution
- Overuse (e.g. yelling or singing loudly at a concert)
- Low humidity
- Postnasal drip
However, sometimes a sore throat can be a sign of bacterial or viral infection, so it’s important to see a doctor if your sore throat is severe or you have trouble swallowing, as these could be signs of strep throat or “mono”. Of course, recurrent sore throats also tell us that something more is at play here.
It could be a sign of a chronic sinus problem or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We will look at your lifestyle to determine if certain things such as heavy drinking or smoking could also play a role in the symptoms you are experiencing.
How is a sore throat treated?
The treatment plan you receive from your osteopathic physician will depend on the root cause. For example, bacterial infections such as strep may require antibiotics while viral infections such as a common cold or mono will simply need to run their course. Some ways to ease your symptoms include,
- Staying hydrated
- Drinking hot tea, liquids, or broths, which can be soothing to the throat
- Using a Neti pot to clean out the sinuses to help drain mucus
- Gargle with salt water a couple of times a day, which can reduce pain and swelling
- Try throat lozenges or over-the-counter pain relievers
Home care is typically all you need to treat sore throats; however, if you develop a fever, you have trouble swallowing, or can’t sleep because of your sore throat, you should call your osteopath.
Good hygiene, adequate sleep, and replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months (or immediately after being sick) are just ways to reduce your risk of getting a sore throat.
While osteopaths can certainly provide you with treatment options, their primary goal is to help patients find effective preventive strategies that improve their health and wellbeing. An osteopath will look at every facet of your life, from your work environment and social groups to your home life and emotional health to determine steps for helping you maintain optimal health.