Seven myths and truths to know about sore throat

Can I get ice cream when I have a sore throat? Does cold drinking make the problem worse? What if I suck on a peppermint, it will ease the pain? These are some common questions about this issue. First, it is necessary to clarify that “sore throat” is not a disease, but a symptom common to several diseases, mainly viral or bacterial infections, inflammation, influenza and allergic reactions.

This symptom is usually caused by inflammation that affects the pharynx (pharyngitis), but it can also affect the larynx (laryngitis) or the tonsils (tonsillitis). Often the inflammation involves the pharynx and the tonsils at the same time, which constitutes the so-called pharyngotonsillitis.

The most common cause of sore throat is a viral infection such as influenza, colds, mononucleosis and childhood diseases for which a vaccine is available, such as measles, pertussis, chickenpox and diphtheria. But many other factors can trigger the problem. Other causes include bacterial infections, allergies, reflux, overuse of the voice and even a dry throat from air conditioning, dry weather or sleeping with your mouth open.

In addition to pain, it may be accompanied by burning, difficulty swallowing, local redness and swelling, hoarseness, loss of voice, cough, headache, pain in the body and reflexes in the ear and neck, fever, pus in the tonsils, malaise, lack of appetite, sore throat and malaise .

Although most of the time it resolves itself in a few days – and for that very reason it is considered by many to be harmless – it should never be neglected.

There are several doubts about sore throat, for this reason Live well separated some myths and truths about the problem:

Does getting an ice cream or cold drink make it worse in the throat?

The simple ingestion of ice or cold drinks is not capable of causing sore throat. In some cases, the chilled liquid may even help as a painkiller to relieve pain.

However, if the cause of the pain is contagious, ice or cold drinks can make the condition worse. This happens because the cilia of the mucous membrane – which is a natural protection – at low temperature can paralyze, impair their function and aggravate the infection.

Do sudden temperature changes hurt your throat?

Going from a very hot place to a very cold place can lower immunity and impair the function of the respiratory mucosa. This mainly happens when you enter a room with air conditioning at low temperature.

The principle is the same as for cold drinks: the cold inhibits the movement (in some cases paralyzes) the mucous membranes. The same thing happens when we are exposed to low temperatures for an extended period of time without being properly covered.

Can air conditioning, low humidity and air pollution cause sore throats?

Air conditioning causes sore throat because it draws moisture out of the air, causing the airways to dry out. Lack of maintenance and cleaning in air conditioners can cause allergies and irritation of the mucous membranes.

The ideal is to keep the air conditioner temperature mild, perform maintenance at regular intervals, clean the unit’s filter weekly (or twice a week if it is on every day) and increase your water intake when staying in chilled environments.

Is it good to suck candy or chewing gum against a sore throat?

Menthol sweets and chewing gum even give a feeling of relief for a few minutes, but the effect is short-lived and can irritate the mucous membrane even more. In some cases, it is recommended to take lozenges with anesthetics, suitable for sore throats. However, the use of these lozenges must be prescribed by a doctor.

Can a poorly cured throat infection reach the heart?

When sore throat is caused by bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes of group A, inadequate treatment or lack of it in people with some genetic predisposition can cause the condition to develop and trigger the autoimmune disease rheumatic fever with possible consequences for the heart (as well as the central nervous system, joints and skin).

Is it only possible to cure sore throat with antibiotics?

The use of antibiotics is recommended only in case of bacterial infections, as this type of medicine has no effect against viruses or in allergic conditions. In some cases, anti-inflammatory or anti-allergic drugs may be prescribed.

It is important to always remember that self-medication can cause health damage, and arbitrary use of antibiotics is to blame in many cases of bacterial resistance. When sore throat lasts for three days or more, seek medical attention.

Does it wrap a sore throat to wrap an alcohol handkerchief around your neck?

Although many people report that they feel relief due to the heat sensation that alcohol causes – it heats the area and ends up forcing the body to take more blood there – this only happens for a moment. This type of action in no way reduces or causes the symptoms to disappear as it does not combat the causes.

* With information from reports published on 05/06/2020, 16/12/2020 and 03/10/2021.

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