A sore throat is one of the most common conditions seen by a family General Practitioner (GP). People use the term to describe almost any feeling in throat, from dryness to acute pain. In severe cases this may lead to difficulty in swallowing solids, liquids and occasionally saliva, explained Dr Hussein Al Kadiri, ENT specialist, Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah.
About 70 per cent of all sore throat cases are due to viral infection rather than bacterial infection. Symptoms of sore throats vary in children and adults.
In adults it can be an Acute Viral Sore Throat which is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. Viral sore throats are more common during the winter and usually settle after a few days. Symptoms may include runny nose, sneezing hoarseness, dry cough due to chest infection, dullness of hearing and redness of the pharynx, tonsils and roof of the mouth (soft palate).
The treatment for this kind of sore throat is self-care by the individual. Generally the sore throat will clear up on its own. To ease the discomfort it is recommended to use saline gargles, take common painkillers, drink plenty of fluids and take honey and lemon mixtures
Sore throat can be also Recurring Viral Sore Throat. This is when people should go to see their GP. A swab of the throat might be taken to identify the cause of the sore throat. If the results show a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics is usually prescribed. The antibiotic normally prescribed is Penicillin. Patients allergic to Penicillin are given an alternative antibiotic such as Erythromycin.
Last form of sore throat in adults is called Quinsy (Peritonsillar Abscess), which usually occurs following the spread of a tonsil infection. Pus builds up causing an abscess or ‘Quinsy’ to develop. Symptoms include acute sore throat, inability to swallow saliva resulting in dribbling, swelling in the neck caused by the abscess spreading to the roof of the mouth (soft palate)
Treatment of an early abscess is by antibiotics while a fully developed abscess requires hospital admission where antibiotics are given through a drip (intravenously). It may also be necessary to drain the pus. This is done by making a small incision under local anesthetic.
Sore throats in children are so frequent and can be due to viral infections. Children with a sore throat may also have a runny nose and/or a cough. Taking common painkillers, drinking plenty of fluids, and having plenty of bed rest can ease the discomfort.