A sore throat means you have a sharp pain in your throat. The severity of the pain can vary from person to person. You could just be suffering from a mild irritation, but possibly also a severe sore throat. The pain may make it hard for you to speak or swallow. A sore throat is usually caused by a virus, like the common cold virus or the coronavirus. Both viruses can also cause other cold symptoms, like a stuffy or runny nose.
A severe sore throat may mean you have laryngitis. This would make the back of your throat very red and you’ll often also see white spots and mucus at the back of your throat.
You may also have a sore throat if:
- You have glandular fever.
- You smoke.
- You often clear your throat.
- You breathe in too much dry air.
- You have shouted loudly or a lot.
- You have an enlarged thyroid gland.
- You overload your throat. For example, by using an incorrect technique when you sing.
- You’re suffering from a STD.
When you have a sore throat, you may have symptoms like:
- A severe and sharp pain in the throat.
- Difficulty swallowing or talking.
- A fever.
- A throat infection. The back of your throat is very red and/or there are white patches and mucus at the back of your throat.
- Sensitive and swollen glands in your neck.
There are various different things you can do yourself to ease the pain. For example, you could:
- Drink something cold.
- Suck on a licorice or sweet. Special lozenges are not necessary. These will have the same effect, but are often more expensive. Plus some tablets will contain painkillers (NSAIDs) which you can’t take indefinitely. Your GP will generally not recommend lozenges which contain NSAIDs. It’s best to be advised by someone at the chemist or pharmacy where you’re buying the lozenges.
- Take sufficient time to rest. Make sure you particularly do this if you’re not feeling well or if you have a fever.
- Try to use your voice less. When you do talk, we recommend you talk as normally as possible. Whispering is not necessary.
You must make sure you don’t infect others if you have a cold or the coronavirus. You can prevent this by:
- Keeping a sufficient distance from others. The guideline for this is 1.5 metres.
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a paper tissue. Immediately throwing the tissue away.
- Regularly washing your hands well. Also do this after you have thrown away your tissue.
- Thoroughly washing your cups, glasses and cutlery after use.
You should contact your GP if:
- You feel short of breath.
- You make a wheezing and rasping sound while breathing.
- You can no longer drink and swallow.
- You’re drooling as a result of the sore throat.
- You can’t, or find it difficult to, open your mouth.
- You’re starting to feel more unwell.
- You have other symptoms on one side of your head, like earache, for example.
- You’ve had a sore throat for more than 10 days.
- You’ve had a fever for more than 3 days. With your body temperature being above 38°C.
- You have a chronic illness, such as cancer. Your resistance may therefore be reduced. It would then certainly be a good idea to ask your GP for advice.
- You suspect you may have a STD.
- You are very concerned.
We don’t recommend visiting your GP when you have a sore throat. You may be infected with the coronavirus. So first establish contact with your GP by telephone and subsequently follow the advice given by the assistant or your doctor. This person may sometimes opt to refer you to the ENT doctor in the hospital.