Sore throat is one of the most common medical conditions caused by virus, bacteria and a few other reasons. Nearly 7% of people are known to have soreness of throat once in say, 3 months. Viral attack remains a well-known cause for soreness. Some bacterial attacks can also result in a sore throat. Other reasons such as pollution, allergens, smoking, etc. also can give you a sore throat. Getting to know the best medicines to treat a sore throat can be very helpful.
If you have a dry and itchy feeling at the root of your tongue, it is a likely indication of a sore throat. You may experience a mild pain or an irritation each time you try to swallow foods. This medical condition is called as pharyngitis. Virus is the most common reason for a sore throat. But, when a strand of bacteria is the reason behind soreness of throat, it requires an antibiotic to fight it. The most commonly experienced signs of sore throat include difficulties to breath, red colored tonsils, swelling of tonsils, pain while you try to swallow foods, itchy or scratchy sensation in throat, difficulties while speaking, etc. Other related symptoms are muffling of voice or your voice turning hoarse and formation of pus in tonsils. It is also possible for you to develop a few signs such as coughs, headache, fever, runny nose, sneezing spells, muscular aches, etc. These signs are an outcome of infections that are more likely to cause soreness of throat.
Causes of throat infections
As mentioned, sore throat is generally caused by viral attacks, and also by a few strands of bacteria. The most common infections that can invariably lead to this medical condition are flu, common cold, Covid-19, mono, measles, etc. Flu is trigged by a virus called influenza; it is characterised by fever, weariness and sore throat along with a few other signs such as runny nose, headache and body pain. Common cold is a condition triggered by virus, and it mainly affects your nasal region as well as your throat. Its symptoms are coughing spells accompanied by soreness of throat and a runny nose.
Mono is the short-form of mononucleosis which is also termed as kissing disease. It is called so as it spreads with saliva as a medium. Its signs include swelling of lymph gland – especially in your neck along with soreness of throat. Covid-19 is widely believed to spread from one to another through respiratory particles or droplets. Its signs are fever, coughs (often dry), soreness of throat amid a host of other symptoms such as decreased appetite, breathing difficulties, phlegm or mucus, chills, etc. Measles is caused by a virus of the same name; its usual symptoms are runny nose, cough, high fever, sore throat, etc.
All the above medical conditions refer to infections caused by viruses. A few strands of bacteria can also cause strep throat; for example, Streptococcus pyogenes is a known strand of the microbe. You may also get affected by an infection resulting in a sore throat due to allergens (such as mold, pollen, dust, pet dander, etc.), straining of throat muscles (occurs when you are speaking for a long time), dryness of air (this occur when the air in your room becomes too dry giving you a parched and dry throat), etc. Sore throat can also occur due to a few critical ailments such as HIV-AIDS (sore throat is one of the foremost symptoms soon after getting infected), cancers (especially in your larynx and throat), etc.
Best medicines for treating sore throat
Soreness of throat can be treated with both over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as well as prescription medications. There are a few proven home remedies very commonly used to treat this condition. But, OTC drugs and home remedies can only cure infections caused by viral attacks. You are advised to consult a qualified medical practitioner if the soreness and fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) remain for more than 3 days. Your doctor may do a physical check followed by swabbing the rear of the throat. The swab is then sent to a laboratory to find traces of Streptococcus pyogenes; this is a bacterial strand known to trigger strep throats.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for treating sore throat
These drugs aim to arrest the root cause of soreness of throat. Under the genre of OTC medications, a set of options is available. These include pain relieving medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), decongesting drugs, sprays, pain relieving drugs, suppressants of coughs, etc. Each of them works on a symptom and can provide needful relief; for example, suppressing coughs can lead to relief from soreness of throat; also, antihistamines can help relieve nasal drips.
Common OTC medications that belong to the segment called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. These drugs help you to get needful relief from pains associated with sore throat. Naproxen helps inhibit substances that trigger inflammation. It mainly works by inhibiting a few hormones that can cause pain along with swelling. Ibuprofen is a drug used for treating fever, pain and inflammation. Like naproxen, this drug also controls the release of certain substances that trigger internal swelling. If you have a medical history of cardiac problems or hypertension, you need to inform about it to your pharmacist before taking ibuprofen or naproxen. Acetaminophen is an important pain relieving medicine available under the OTC category. This drug helps reduce fever as well as provides relief from pain.
Decongesting drugs are available both as a spray and in an oral form. Widely used drugs under this category are oxymetazoline, pseudoephedrine, etc.
Oxymetazoline helps contract your dilated blood vessels, especially in the nasal pathways. As expanded vessels can cause congestion of nasal air pockets, shrinkage of vessels results in nasal decongestion. Pseudoephedrine is also used to decongest your nose and to treat congestion or blockages in your sinus. You are advised to tell your pharmacist if you are diabetic or if you have recently experienced a cardiac arrest.
Cough suppressing drugs available as OTC products are guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, etc. Guaifenesin is mainly an expectorant; it helps loosen and thinning-down the mucus. Thus, nasal blocks are decongested and difficulties experienced while breathing are eased. On the other hand, dextromethorphan suppresses coughs. Its function is to control the receptors in your brain and stop the urge to cough. However, it is not taken for coughs caused by asthma or smoking.
A few oral sprays or sprays for throat are also sold through the OTC route; these include phenol, dyclonine, etc. Phenol is used to treat irritation in your mouth as well as soreness of mouth and throat. Dyclonine is known for its anesthetic properties; it is also used as part of lozenges sold as a relief for sore throat.
Prescription medicines to treat sore throat
Sore throat caused by bacterial attacks may require medicines prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner. In such attacks, soreness of throat is due to tonsillitis, pneumonia or strep throat. Your treating doctor – in all likelihood – will prescribe antibiotics to act against these bacterial infections. Penicillin-based drugs – such as amoxicillin, etc. – are the first choice in most prescriptions. Amoxicillin stops the further growth and progression of bacteria. However, if you have hypersensitivity to penicillin-based drugs, you need to inform your treating doctor about such allergies. In case you have such hypersensitivity, drugs such as clarithromycin, clindamycin, cefadroxil, cephalexin, etc. are prescribed.
Of these drugs prescribed for sore throat, clarithromycin helps fight a broad spectrum of bacterial attacks. It is also a preventive drug that can protect you from likely microbial infections. This drug’s main activity is to arrest the growth and further multiplication of the microbe. It belongs to a class of medications called macrolide antibiotics.
Clindamycin also works on a variety of bacterial infections by inhibiting the progression of germs. Always remember that clindamycin can make a few vaccines to become ineffective – especially, vaccines administered for typhoid. Hence, it is advised not to take a shot of such vaccines while using this drug.
Cefadroxil is an antibiotic belonging to a category called cephalosporin drugs. The main function of this antibiotic is to stop the progression and reproduction of bacteria. If you have a medical history of intestinal disorders or renal dysfunction, you need to keep your doctor informed of such pre-existing medical conditions. Also, this antibiotic may interact with a few reagents used for laboratory tests – especially, reagents used for tests done on urine samples of diabetics.
Cephalexin is used for infections in upper respiratory tract, sore throat, infections in your ears, etc. It is effective against a wide range of infections, caused by several strands of bacteria. It also belongs to a family of drugs called cephalosporin antibiotics. It is found to be more effective against gram-positive bacteria. However, it has also been known to be effective against a few gram-negative bacteria. Its key function is to destroy the walls or cell linings of germs. If not used as per directions or unnecessarily used, its efficacy is found to drop drastically. Antibiotics categorized under cephalosporin are a good substitute to treat people who have allergies to penicillin-based drugs.
In sum, the best medicines to treat sore throat can be classified into two – OTC medications and prescribed drugs. Under the OTC route, the popular drugs are naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, etc. Under the prescribed category of medications, widely used antibiotics are penicillin-based drugs like amoxicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics such as cefadroxil, cephalexin, etc.