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Section I–Common Health Problems - Sore Throats
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HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

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 Section I–Common Health Problems

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Sore Throats

“Cheering at the
game was great, but my voice was hoarse and my throat was sore the next
couple of days.”

Chris
B., Duke University

Sore throats are common complaints of college students. The soreness can
range from a mere scratch to severe pain.

Signs & Symptoms

Soreness or pain in the throat, especially
when you talk or swallow

Swollen neck glands

The back of the throat and/or the tonsils
look bright red or have pus deposits or white spots.

Sores on the roof of the mouth

You may have other symptoms with the sore
throat, too. These include fatigue, fever, postnasal drip, bad breath,
headache, and/or earache.

Causes

A bacterial or viral infection, such
as strep throat, tonsillitis, or mononucleosis
Shouting for long periods of time,
such as from cheering at a sporting event
Tobacco or marijuana smoke
Air pollution, dry air and/or
allergies
Postnasal drip
Self-induced vomiting
An infection from oral sex with an
infected partner

Treatment

If an infection is suspected, your health
care provider may take a throat culture. If streptococcus or any other type
of bacteria is present, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic. Be sure you
take all of the antibiotic, even if you are feeling better. If strep throat
is inadequately treated, other conditions, such as rheumatic fever can occur

Questions to Ask

With a sore throat, do you have severe shortness
of breath, are you unable to swallow your own saliva, or are you unable
to say more than 4 or 5 words between breaths?

 

With a sore throat, do you have any of
these problems?

  • Fever
  • Swollen, enlarged neck glands
  • Ear pain
  • Bad breath
  • Skin rash
  • Dark urine

 
Do your tonsils or does the back of your throat
look bright red or have visible pus deposits?

 
Does your roommate or others you live with have
strep throat or do you get strep throat or tonsillitis often?

 
Has even a mild sore throat lasted more than 2
weeks?

 

Self-Care/Prevention

To
Prevent Getting a Sore Throat:

Do not get in close contact with
anyone you know has a sore throat.
Wash your hands often to minimize
picking up germs from others. Also, don’t share drinking glasses and
silverware.

To
Treat
a Sore Throat:

Gargle every 2 to 3 hours with a solution
of 1/4 teaspoon of salt mixed in 1 cup of warm water.
Drink plenty of warm beverages, such as
tea with lemon (with or without honey) and soup.
For strep throat, drink and eat cold
liquids and foods, such as frozen yogurt and popsicles.
Use a cool-mist vaporizer in your room. If
you get a sore throat often, consider putting a portable air purifier in
your room.
Don’t smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke and
air pollution.
Avoid eating spicy foods.
Suck on a piece of hard candy, cough drop,
or medicated lozenge every 2 to 4 hours.
Take an over-the-counter medicine for the
pain and/or fever. (See “OTC Medications for "Pain relievers".)
If prescribed an antibiotic, take all of
it.

©2005,
6th edition. American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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December 08, 2005