A.Vogel Talks Sore Throats

Sore throats. Symptoms, causes, remedies and when to see the doctor


Dr. Jen Tan
Immune System Expert
@AVogelUK
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

What is a sore throat?

A sore throat is also known as pharyngitis.

The throat (or pharynx) is the muscular passage visible when you open your mouth. It connects the nose and mouth to the oesophagus and lungs. The pharynx helps us control speech, breathing and swallowing.

A sore throat occurs when the tissues of the pharynx become inflamed. Most commonly, this arises because of infection by viruses and bacteria, associated with the common cold or flu.

Sore throats are common and it is said that the average person will get 2 or 3 of these a year. Sore throats, like cold and flu infections, are more commonly seen in younger people. This is because as a person gets older, his or her immune system has had the chance to build up resistance to cold and flu viruses.

Sore throat symptoms

Sore throats are often part of the symptoms experienced with cold and flu infections. They may the first signs of these infections, or develop later as a result of subsequent (or secondary) infection by bacteria.

Inflammation at the back of the throat can give rise to a variety of symptoms, all described as a sore throat:

  • At the start of a viral cold infection, it is not uncommon to experience a feeling of irritation at the back of the throat which might be described as ‘scratchy’ or ‘itchy’
  • If the throat inflammation continues, this irritation can develop into a discomfort or pain
  • Further inflammation can give rise to discomfort on swallowing food or liquids or even saliva

These are only a few of the symptoms associated with having a sore throat.

Causes of sore throats

Sore throats don’t generally come alone but tend to be the result of another cause. The most common causes are viral infections associated with colds or flu, or a secondary infection by bacteria.

Other causes of sore throats include:

  • Excessive use of the voice – for example, shouting and singing during a rock concert
  • Injury or trauma to the back of the throat as a result of eating something too solid – eg. a fish bone
  • Hayfever or other forms of allergic rhinitis - air-borne allergies can cause inflammation to the back of the throat
  • Irritation caused by atmospheric pollutants or self-inflicted with cigarette smoke
  • Acid reflux – basically, acid rising up from the stomach and irritating the back of the throat
  • Certain types of medication such as the class of drugs known as DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • A weakened immune system such as seen with HIV and AIDs can cause ‘normal’ infections to become more severe
  • Certain rare medical conditions such as cancer can cause a persistent sore throat.

These are only a few of the causes of sore throats.

Remedies to cure a sore throat

Sore throats relating to colds and flu may be treated in a number of ways:

  • Many people resort to simple analgesics (aspirin and paracetamol) including those contained in conventional cold and flu remedies
  • An alternative is to use Echinacea to help relieve the symptoms of colds and flu, including sore throats. This herb has an additional benefit as it works by strengthening the body’s immune system
  • Throat sprays are available to treat sore throats. These usually contain conventional antiseptics and analgesics
  • Alternatively, there are herbal sore throat remedies such as those combining Echinacea and sage.

For some more tips, see our article on the best home and herbal remedies for a sore throat.

When should I see my doctor?

Most cases of sore throat do not need medical attention. However, there are a number of circumstances where you should seek the advice of your doctor:

  • If your sore throat is accompanied by high fever
  • Your sore throat does not improve within one week
  • You experience repeated and frequent episodes of sore throat without an apparent cause
  • If your sore throat is persistent
  • If you have difficulty breathing
  • If you are suffering from an underlying health condition which suppresses your immune system, such as HIV, AIDS, leukaemia, whilst receiving chemotherapy etc.

Echinaforce® Sore Throat Spray

30ml

£ 10.99

find your local stockist

Contains Echinaforce® and Sage. To relieve sore throats.
More info

What's being asked

My daughter has a very bad sore throat. She's 6 years old, what can I give her to help heal it?

Unfortunately, we do not have any products for sore throats for children under 12. I would suggest ...
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I have a sore throat that is irritating and is making me cough. I have taken some antibiotics but it is still not resolving. What can I do?

You may find a combination of Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray and Bronchoforce helpful as these are ...
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I tend to get sore throats at least twice a year now, and it takes at least 3 weeks or more to get over it. What can I do?

Some people find that any cold or flu type of infection can affect a particular area of the ...
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Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Immune System expert, I recommend Echinaforce® Sore Throat Spray to help ease symptoms of a sore throat.

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Did you know?

On average, you will experience a sore throat 2 or 3 times a year but, if you are lucky, your immune system will be able to conquer the virus before it develops into a full blow episode of the common cold.

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