Health And Medicine: Choosing An Over-The-Counter Sore Throat Remedy

There are many different over-the-counter sore throat remedies. Which ones should you use and when? Read on for information and suggestions.

Pharyngitis is the medical term for your basic, run-of-the mill sore throat. It's an infection of the throat and the tonsils, if you still have your tonsils, that is. The most common cause of a sore throat is a virus. It is usually a mild virus like the cold or the flu. Sometimes, it could be mononucleosis (known as the "kissing disease"), Epstein-Barr or even AIDS. If a virus is the cause, you might have a fever, stuffiness and a hacking cough that further irritates your throat's soreness.

Allergies - whether mild or severe - can also cause your throat to become sore and scratchy. If you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose due to congestion or other factors, that can cause your throat to become inflamed and sore. These can range from allergies to mold, pollen, dust, dander and much more. If you have allergies as an adult, you're probably pretty aware of what triggers them.

Perhaps the most common cause of a sore throat is caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus. That gives the condition strep throat its name. If you have strep throat, you should see a doctor. Strep can be diagnosed with a very easy lab test. Remember the long q-tip tickling the back of your throat with the tongue depressor that looks like a Popsicle stick? That's the one. With strep, you'll most likely have a fever, usually around 100 degrees. There'll also be redness and swelling of the throat. It will be painful to swallow. You may also have a headache, stomach ache and loss of appetite.

A strep throat can be symptomatic of more serious illnesses like rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can cause severe joint pain and even heart damage if left untreated. Other illnesses that could cause a sore throat include Lupus, Fibromyalgia, parasitic infections, and throat cancer. A sore throat that lasts longer than ten days or one that is accompanied by a high fever, migraines, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes should be looked at by a doctor.

However, if you have none of the more worrisome symptoms, you will probably be able to treat your sore throat with any one of the plethora of OTC (over-the-counter) medications on the market. Generally speaking, an over-the-counter medication is one that you can purchase without a prescription. Please remember, however that this is still medication even if it wasn't prescribed and you may want to follow a few basic guidelines before purchasing your medication.

First, read the labels. This sounds simple, but not many people do this. You should know the strength of the medication, its active ingredients and the dosing amounts and frequency. Second, you should follow the directions for use on the package. This includes the final guideline - talking with your doctor or your pharmacist about any possible drug interactions. If you are taking other medications, prescription or otherwise and vitamins/herbal supplements, these could potentially interact with the sore throat remedy. Make sure you know warning signs to look out for.

As mentioned previously, there's lots of over the counter sore throat remedies out there. It may be difficult to decide what to use. Basically, if you know what's causing your sore throat, it's easier to treat it with the proper remedy.

For example, if you have a fever and pain, then you'd probably want to take a pain reliever and/or fever reducer such as Tylenol or Motrin. If you are struggling with allergies, then an allergy medication such as Tylenol Allergy Sinus, Benadryl or Claritin might do the trick. You may also want to use a nasal spray like Afrin or Nasonex if your nose is stuffed up as well.

Many of the medications you use for allergies can also work if you are struggling with congestion. However, there are many brands like Benadryl, Sudafed and Tylenol that help with both and still have brands that treat congestion especially or allergies only. Therefore, it's best in that case to pick the medication that relates most closely to the symptoms (cause) of your sore throat. Robitussin and other cough syrup brands also have decongestant agents and can help with a sore throat.

If your pain is localized to the throat itself and you have difficulty swallowing, then your best bet for relief is probably a throat spray such as Chloraseptic or throat lozenges such as Cepacol and Sucrets. These numb the pain for a time and may make you more comfortable and able to drink the fluids that are so necessary to helping your body to heal.

No matter what causes your throat to become sore, chances are it's a symptom you won't be able to ignore, there are many over the counter medications that you can use to provide you relief in the short-term. If you choose the right medication to match your symptoms and watch out for any drug or allergic reactions, your throat should be back to normal in a few uncomfortable days. If not, your best bet is to check in with your doctor and see what else could be going on.

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