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Overview

When an individual's throat feels scratchy and sore or there's a tingling sensation present then there may be some extent of inflammation of the tissue in this area. Other symptoms may include a burning sensation, irritation, and dryness of the throat. It may also hurt when one tries to speak or swallow and redness of throat and tonsils may be noticed. 

Inflammation of the tissue covering the throat will result in the mentioned symptoms because the process involves increased blood flow to the affected area and this results in swelling of the blood vessels, underlying soft tissue, and mucous membranes covering the throat.

Causes

Sores throats can be caused by infections as a result of streptococcal bacteria and viruses such as the flu and the common cold. Other viral infections may also include measles, mononucleosis (glandular fever), mumps, and chicken-pox. Signs and symptoms that may be associated with these causes include fevers, malaise, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, skin rashes, and swollen glands in the neck.

Environmental triggers such as dry air cause the mucous tissue of the throat to dry up causing the throat to become dry and scratchy. Other environmental factors affecting the throat may include exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollutants, cleaning products, and other chemicals.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux, where acid from the stomach flows back up the oesophagus, irritates the throat which also causes the mentioned signs and symptoms to occur.

An allergic reaction or sensitivity to triggers such as pollen, grass or tree seeds, pet hair, or any products that may be consumed such as milk, wheat products, and tree nuts as well as medications such as the ACE inhibitors used to control high blood pressure can also cause the mentioned throat symptoms.

Affected patients may only present with obstructive issues such as difficulty swallowing and breathing if these factors cause swelling of the throat, but they can also result in sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, and teary eyes. Excess mucous from the nose may also drip down the back of the throat (post-nasal drip) irritating the tissue.

Management

In most cases, a sore and irritated throat can be managed with home remedies or even conservatively with over-the-counter medications to help bring about the relief of symptoms.

In the case of an infection, bed rest is recommended to allow the body to use its metabolic energy to rather boost the immune system in order to fight off the pathogen causing the problem. 

The remedies that can be attempted at home include:

  • Mixing half a teaspoon of salt in one litre of warm water and then gargling with the solution four to six times a day for a few days.
  • Drinking warm liquids such as tea with natural anti-inflammatory products such as lemon and honey added to the beverage. Herbal teas such as red-bush, mint, and chamomile are especially soothing to the throat.
  • For a burning throat, eating ice-cream or a popsicle may help.
  • Add moisture to the air by turning on a cool mist humidifier.

Over-the-counter products that may be used include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen.
  • Anti-histamines in the case of allergies.
  • Local anesthetic sprays, lollipops, or lozenges.
If these therapies are ineffective after a few days use, or the situation worsens, then the affected individual is advised to consult with their primary care doctor for further assessment and management.

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