What is a sore throat?
- Sore throat is an acute upper respiratory tract infection affecting the respiratory mucosa of the throat
- It leads to pain and discomfort of the pharynx or tonsils or both
- About 10% of people presenting to physician complains of sore throat each year
- It can be both bacterial or viral in origin
- Almost 70% of sore throats in adults and children are caused by viruses (commonly called colds and flu) while 10% are caused by bacteria
- This infection can spread through close contact with others
- It is mainly a disease of youth and the early school years
- It can include irritation, itching, and pain that can cause difficulty in swallowing
- It can be treated by killing the cause of infection and by soothing symptoms to reduce inflammation.
Key measures to relieve sore throat
- Gargling with salt water or betadine
- Gargling with warm salt water is beneficial for soothing a scratchy throat as salt can pull the mucus out of swollen, inflamed tissue that can further help in relieving the symptoms of discomfort.
- A study conducted also suggests that gargling with salt water may even help prevent upper respiratory tract infections.
How to do a saltwater gargle?
- Combine 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 4 to 8 ounces of warm water
- Stir until the salt dissolves
- Gargle with it for several seconds and spit it out
- Repeat this several times each day
- Do not put too much salt in it and swallow the salt as this could dry out the sensitive throat membranes.
How to do a Gargle?
- Betadine gargle, an antiseptic and disinfectant solution is used as a mouthwash to kill germs causing infections of the mouth and throat
- Its active ingredient is povidone-iodine that can kill germs in 30 seconds
- Dilute 1mL of betadine solution to 20mL of water
- Swish part of the solution briefly in the mouth
- Tilt your head backward and gargle for a total of 30 seconds
- Spit it out. Repeat every 2-4 hours or as directed by your physician
- However, try to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for at least 30 minutes after gargles
- Do not swallow it, if swallowed accidentally, take medical advise
- Although it is not advised as a routine mouthwash, it will not cause permanent staining to teeth or skin.
Advantages of betadine gargle
- It is generally very safe, works quite rapidly, and reduces pain and discomfort associated with a sore throat
- It kills the microorganisms causing the infection in the throat and relieves a small irritation before it aggravates further
- It is also known to help speed up the recovery process of sore throat.
Adverse effects of betadine gargle
It is safe, with rare and minor side effects that include:
- Allergic-type reactions like rash or difficulty in breathing, in individuals allergic to povidone-iodine
- Using a very large amount of povidone-iodine for a long period of time can sometimes cause thyroid disorders
- Rare itching and burning of the skin.
Cautions for using Gargles
- Betadine gargles should be given judiciously when the patient is suffering from fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting along with severe sore throat
- When a sore throat is present for more than 2 days
- In the case of known hypersensitivity to iodine or povidone
- In case if the patient is suffering from any thyroid disease such as goiter, thyroid nodules as there may be a risk of developing hyperthyroidism
- It is contradicted to use for 4 weeks before treatment for cancer of the thyroid
- It should be taken with medical advise during pregnancy or breastfeeding
- It is prohibited to use in children below 6 years of age
- Povidone-iodine should not be used if you are going to have a thyroid, feces, or urine test
- Please inform your healthcare professional, if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines, before using betadine gargle.
Studies affirming the use of povidone-iodine gargle
- Recent researches have highlighted the role of povidone iodine as a preventive measure against Covid-19. Mounting evidence suggests that the throat acts as a reservoir for coronavirus in both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Gargling in these patients can help in reducing the viral load, which in turn decreases the chances its transmission
- Povidone-iodine, a strong antiseptic agent with strong anti-infective property and low resistance provides an attractive option in infection control and prevention of infections like a sore throat. This in turn also minimizes antibiotic misuse and subsequent development of bacterial resistance
- A similar study showed that povidone-iodine gargle/mouthwash exhibits rapid bactericidal activity and virucidal efficacy and helps in providing protective hygiene for the oropharynx which further can aid individuals who are at high risk of contracting oral and respiratory infections.
- Use a humidifier
- You can help your sore throat with the help of a humidifier
- Breathing in moist air can help soothe swollen tissue in your nose and throat.
- Try on some lozenges
- Certain over-the-counter (OTC) throat lozenges contain ingredients like menthol, that can gently numb the tissue in your throat
- This agent can offer you instant but temporary relief from burning and pain sensation
- Similarly, candy and cough drops may increase your saliva production which causes lubrication in the throat. This in turn aids in relieving symptoms associated with a sore throat
- However, lozenges or cough drops are contradicted to young children as both are a choking hazard.
- Take a steam shower
- Breathing in the steam generated from a warm shower can help in decreasing swelling and pain of sore throat
- Alternatively, create steam by running very hot water into a sink. You can drape a towel over the head and lean into the sink to breathe in the steam. Try to take deep breaths for several minutes, and repeat this as many time possible to achieve relief
- Another method of taking steam for your sore throat includes boiling water in a pot on the stove for 30 minutes to increase humidity in your house. For better efficacy, add a tablespoon of menthol ointment to the boiling water in order to breathe in the air filled with decongestant menthol aromas.
- Take honey with your tea
- Sweetened warm tea with honey can help in relieving irritated throat
- This tea can also keep you hydrated, a crucial factor in treating a sore throat
- In addition, honey is believed to possess cough suppressing action
- You can also take green tea infused with honey, as its antibacterial action can help in reducing inflammation and pain of sore throat.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Drinking plenty of water or other fluids can keep the mucous membrane of the throat hydrated, which further enhances healing
- You can drink tea, herbal infusions, water, or other beverages at the temperature feels suitable to you.
- Consume coconut oil
- Owing to the fact that coconut oil has numerous health benefits, it can help fight infection and reduce inflammation of the sore throat
- It is also considered soothing as it can keep mucous membranes of the throat lubricated
- However, limit your intake 2 tbsp (30 ml) per day alone or in warm beverages as it can act as a laxative if consumed more.
- Elevate your head while lying down
- Take an extra pillow or two under your head, if you are suffering from congestion with a sore throat
- The extra height can help you breathe easier as you do not require an open mouth, which could have caused drying out of the throat and the resultant increase in pain.
Dos & Don’ts in COVID-19. Available at: https://www.emedinexus.com/post/19777/dos-&-don’ts-in-covid-19. Accessed on:11-09-2020
Kanagalingam J, Feliciano R, Hah JH, Labib H, Le TA, Lin JC. Practical use of povidone-iodine antiseptic in the maintenance of oral health and in the prevention and treatment of common oropharyngeal infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2015;69(11):1247-1256.
Eggers M, Koburger-Janssen T, Eickmann M, Zorn J. In Vitro Bactericidal and Virucidal Efficacy of Povidone-Iodine Gargle/Mouthwash Against Respiratory and Oral Tract Pathogens. Infect Dis Ther. 2018;7(2):249-259.