Laryngitis, pharyngitis, other acute respiratory infections and SARS are a common story in cold weather. These infections affect 44% of the world’s population every year. The main symptom is sore throat. How to be treated and what mistakes to avoid?
Our expert — otorhinolaryngologist, head of the department of vestibulology and otoneurology of the National Medical Research Center for Otorhinolaryngology of the FMBA of Russia, Candidate of Medical Sciences Olga Zaitseva.
Sore throat? Everything is clear, hypothermia is to blame! It was not necessary to walk without a scarf and eat ice cream on the street. Hypothermia can indeed reduce local immunity, but the culprits of the disease are viruses and bacteria.
The most common causes of sore throats are rhinoviruses, influenza and parainfluenza viruses and, of course, coronaviruses, especially the infamous SARS Cov‑2. Treatment of SARS is usually symptomatic, because there are very few effective direct antiviral drugs.
Of the bacteria, the most dangerous is beta-hemolytic streptococcus, which causes severe streptococcal tonsillitis, in which antibiotics are urgently required (no other drugs can cope with this disease and its complications). To confirm the diagnosis, you can use a special pharmacy test that will quickly give an answer whether streptococcus is present or not. It is impossible to take antibiotics at random, especially since they are useless with SARS.
It is viruses, not bacteria, that are more often to blame for sore throats.
It is necessary to treat inflammation of the upper respiratory tract without delay so that the infection does not go down below and does not cause complications.
Ice or raspberry tea?
Usually, with a sore throat, they drink warm tea with raspberries. Although in the Soviet encyclopedia you can find an article on the treatment of the throat. It contains a paradoxical piece of advice: hold a piece of ice in your mouth. This is exactly what is done today with a severe sore throat across the ocean. For example, an American doctor may advise giving a patient with a red throat a slightly melted ice cream — the cold will reduce swelling and act like anesthesia, causing numbness and reducing the sensitivity of the mucous membrane. In addition, fatty ice cream will soften the damaged throat, which will further alleviate the pain.
True, the cold makes sense to apply only at the beginning of the disease. If after a few hours the pain does not subside, but, on the contrary, increases, it is time to move on to medical treatment.
You can wash
To recover faster and without consequences, you must follow 5 important rules.
1. Not just lie down, but also seek medical help. This is especially true in the era of the coronavirus.
2. Do not take antibiotics (even in local forms) without a doctor’s prescription. In most cases, ARI can be managed without them. And with viral infections, they are useless.
3. Take antipyretics and painkillers without exceeding the recommended dosages. If the temperature is below 38.5 °, it is better to limit yourself to bed rest and a plentiful warm drink. The choice of antipyretic drug depends on the age and concomitant diseases of the patient, as well as on the severity of the infection. For example, ibuprofen is contraindicated in patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, as well as in the elderly, since they may have an increased risk of bleeding against the background of a viral infection. Aspirin is strictly forbidden to give to children. The best choice for SARS (and COVID‑19) is paracetamol.
4. Deal with symptoms. For sore throats, it is better to use topical NSAIDs (sprays). With a runny nose — vasoconstrictor drops (no longer than 3-4 days). But it is better to limit yourself to washing the nose with saline solutions.
5. Do not forget about healthy lifestyle. Ventilate the room more often, carry out wet cleaning, and when the temperature drops, go for walks. Taking a shower during illness is not only possible, but necessary.
You should not experiment with cold procedures if the child is sick, especially when the illness is accompanied by a temperature above 38 °. The cold will only make the chill worse. In addition, it can cause a spasm of the throat and provoke a severe runny nose. Cold rinses can be used for prevention. It is better to temper the mucous membranes gradually, starting with a warm solution of medicinal herbs (sage, chamomile, calendula) and slowly lowering the temperature of the liquid.
If the sore throat does not go away after 2-3 days, you should consult a doctor. The constant arsenal of physicians includes several groups of drugs.
Antiseptics of local action in the form of a spray. Complex preparations based on lysozyme, which combine several actions at once, have the greatest effect: antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic. Since lysozyme is a natural enzyme found in the human body, such products are safe enough to be given to both children and pregnant women, and, if necessary, combined with systemic antibiotics as prescribed by a doctor.
Local antiseptics in tablets. The most effective dosage form of local antiseptics can be considered drugs in lozenges (for example, lysobact based on the same lysozyme). The time of exposure of active substances to inflamed tissues during resorption is longer.
Hypertonic saline solutions containing high concentrations of sea salt. Their effectiveness is somewhat lower than that of antiseptics. In addition, with hypertension, problems with the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract, excess salt in case of an overdose can be dangerous. Weak (isotonic) salt solutions are good only for prevention.
Mucolytics. If a cough has joined the sore throat, it is better to take drugs based on carbocysteine, since if antibiotic therapy is necessary, it will increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic.
Herbal remedies and folk remedies (chamomile, sage, garlic, warm milk with honey and butter). The evidence base for traditional medicines is low, but gargling with herbal decoctions will help soothe the throat and reduce inflammation, becoming an addition to medications prescribed by a doctor. Remember that treatment only with folk remedies can be hazardous to health.