Winter woes: Dealing with sore throat

Published on Jan 12, 2022 11:58 AM IST

Finding it difficult to eat, swallow or sleep? A common occurrence amid cold weather, experts share some simple ways to cure a sore, itchy throat

Winter woes: Dealing with sore throat
Winter woes: Dealing with sore throat

Come winter and exposure to ailments such as common cold and viral flu increase manifold. Not to forget the rising pollution levels as well as the alarming threat of Covid-19, all of which dent the immune system.

“Sore throat is one of the most common complaints in winter. People experience discomfort, pain and itchiness that can even lead to difficulty in speaking or swallowing,” informs Dr Charu Dutt Arora, consultant physician and infectious disease specialist, Asian Hospital, Faridabad. However, given the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the looming threat of Omicron, she asserts that one must isolate and get tested for Covid-19, if sore throat persists. “Sore throat is one of the symptoms of Covid-19. If it is accompanied by fever, dry cough, body ache, headache, lethargy and running nose, and if these symptoms persist for two-three days, get an RT-PCR done and seek medical attention at the earliest,” says Dr Arora.

Causes

Apart from Covid-19, a host of factors trigger throat issues, such as muscle strain and season change. Dr Meena Agarwal, senior consultant - ENT at PSRI Hospital, New Delhi, lists some triggers:

Viral infections cause about 90% of sore throat.

Breathing in dry air sucks moisture from the throat, leaving it dry, scratchy and uncomfortable, more so in winter when the heater is on.

Strep throat, a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils, can cause intense pain, which may worsen at night due to increased postnasal drip.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition wherein stomach acid frequently comes up into the oesophagus or food pipe. This can burn and irritate the lining of the oesophagus, causing sore throat.

Remedies

“Common preventive remedies include keeping oneself hydrated, periodic hand-washing, avoid touching one’s face and keeping indoor spaces humidified,” says Dr RR Mandhani, MS, ENT, medical consultant, ENTOD Pharmaceutical.

Other remedies are:

Wear a mask in public at all times, to shield the body from pollutants.

Use a humidifier at night if you are sensitive to dry air.

Fresh garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. Crush and chew a clove of fresh garlic to ease throat pain, or mix crushed garlic with honey in hot water and drink it.

Bone broths are loaded with calcium, zinc and magnesium, which will help tackle infections better.

Gargling with baking soda can neutralise acids in the mouth, ward off infection and protect against inflammation.

A hot toddy, made with whiskey, water, honey and lemon juice, with a dash of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger, can help ease discomfort. (With inputs from Dr Amitabh Malik, head - ENT, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)

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