Sore Throat

Sore throat is a condition which causes pain, scratchiness, dryness in the throat. This problem usually intensifies upon swallowing of food or liquid. The most common cause of sore throat is a viral infection but usually, the condition resolves on its own.

But in cases, where the sore throat, specifically streptococcal infection, occurs because of bacteria, the condition may require medications such as antibiotics. However, other forms of sore throat may require more intense treatment depending on the cause.

Symptoms of sore throat

Symptoms of sore throat depend on the cause of the problem. However, some common signs of the condition include:

  • Pain or dryness in the throat
  • A scratchy feeling in the throat
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Soreness or swelling in the neck or jaw
  • Swelling or redness in the tonsils
  • White patches or pus formations on the tonsils
  • Hoarse or barely audible voice

However, the underlying problem of sore throat can also tend to show some symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Body pain

Also, in children, if the sore throat does not go away on its own soon, the parents should get immediate medical care in case there are other symptoms, such as:

  • Problem in breathing
  • An issue in swallowing food or liquid
  • Abnormal drooling

Moreover, if an adult experiences sore throat with the below symptoms, immediate medical attention must be sought.

  • Problem in breathing
  • Issue in swallowing
  • A sore throat that lasts more than a week
  • Rash
  • Pain in the joints
  • A problem in opening the mouth
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Formation of a lump in the neck
  • Swollen neck or face
  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Hoarse voice, which does not improve for more than a week

Causes of sore throat

The most common cause of sore throat is the virus such as cold and flu. But in some conditions, bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat.

Viral infections such as colds, measles, chickenpox, COVID-19, influenza, mono, croup, etc. can cause sore throat. Moreover, bacterial infections such as Streptococcus pyogenes can also lead to a sore throat.

That said, some other causes of the problem include:

  • Allergies to dust, molds, pet dander, etc.
  • Dryness because of mouth breathing
  • Irritants including tobacco smoke, chemicals, etc.
  • Muscle strain because of excessive yelling, talking, etc.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • HIV infection
  • Tumours

Risk factors of sore throat

A sore throat is a very common condition and can impact people of all ages. However, some people may be more prone to the problem than others. These include:

  • Children between 3-15 years of age
  • People who are more exposed to tobacco or similar type of smoke
  • People that have existing allergies to molds, dust, etc.
  • People that are highly exposed to chemical irritants
  • Individuals that get serious or frequent sinus infections
  • People that have a weak immune system

Prevention of sore throat

The best way to prevent sore throat is to maintain good hygiene and avoid germs by:

  • Washing hands regularly
  • Avoiding sharing of food
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Using alcohol-based sanitizers
  • Limiting touching public places and common surfaces
  • Regularly cleaning all devices such as telephones, TV, etc.
  • Avoiding close contact with ill people

Diagnosis of sore throat

To assess a sore throat, the doctor will foremost conduct a physical exam that can include:

  • A lighted instrument, which is used to look inside the throat, ears and nasal passages.
  • Softly checking the neck to detect the presence of any swollen glands
  • Listening to the breathing

In many cases, the doctors conduct a throat swab test to check for sore throat. The doctor uses a sterile swab and rubs it over the back of the throat to obtain a sample of secretions. This sample is then sent to the lab to get the results.

Treatment of sore throat

A sore throat which is generally caused due to a bacterial infection does not harm and typically goes away in a maximum of 7 days, without any medical care. However, to reduce pain and fever, the doctor might suggest some pain relievers or fever medications.

In case, the strep throat is caused because of bacterial infection, the doctor will suggest antibiotics. The full course of antibiotics should be taken, even when the symptoms get over sooner. In case, the medications are not taken properly, the sore throat infection can worsen or spread to other body parts.

Moreover, non-completion of the antibiotic course for sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever in children or even kidney inflammation.

That said, some lifestyle and home remedies that can help improve the sore throat issue include:

  • Getting plenty of rest and sleeping well
  • Drinking more fluids
  • Opting for more warm liquids and foods such as tea, ice pops, etc.
  • Gargling with saltwater
  • Using a cool-air humidifier to remove the air, which can potentially lead to a sore throat
  • Avoiding irritants such as tobacco smoke, cleaning agents, etc.

Overall, sore throat can easily be prevented and treated after diagnosis. However, regular check-ups can help ensure the infection is monitored and prevented.

Malaria: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention

Malaria is a disease caused by the bite of a species of mosquito (known as the Anopheles), which has been infected by parasites that carry the infection. These parasites that are responsible for spreading the life-threatening disease belong to the Plasmodium genus. An Anopheles mosquito carrying the malaria parasite bites an uninfected person transferring the parasite in the body, which then releases into the bloodstream of the person, and travels to the liver where it stays until it matures. Upon maturity, these parasites re-enter the bloodstream and start attacking the red blood cells, causing them to burst; the infection takes about 40-72 hours to spread. When an uninfected mosquito bites a malaria-infected person, it becomes the carrier of the parasite which is spread to every person the infected mosquito further bites. 

Malaria is a very common and widespread disease with no particular preventive vaccination yet though it can be barred and easily cured if detected timely. As of today, there are more than 200 million cases of malaria reported each year worldwide and the number is only increasing per year. Hence, awareness about the causes of malaria, its symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures is very critical to safeguard precious lives.

Causes of Malaria

The major cause of malaria is the bite of an Anopheles mosquito carrying any of the four Plasmodium parasites including Plasmodium vivax, P.ovale, P.malariae, or P.falciparum; P.falciparum being one of the deadliest parasites which have the highest chances of death unless treated properly. 

Further, in some cases, malaria infection could also be acquired. These cases include, but are not limited to:

  • An organ transplant 
  • Blood transfusion
  • Use of shared needles or syringes
  • Genetically passed on by the mother to the child upon birth

Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria can be life-threatening if proper medical treatment is not received on time. To get proper medical treatment, it is important to diagnose malaria based on its symptoms and then get it accredited by proper tests including blood tests that will clarify:

  • The type of parasite causing the infection
  • The spread of the infection (to vital organs)
  • The infection resulting in anaemia

A person suffering from malaria will also have an enlarged spleen or liver. That said, some of the common symptoms that indicate a malaria infection include:

  • Severe chills and shivering
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anaemia
  • Muscle pain
  • Coma
  • Bloody stool
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough

While the symptoms are commonly observed in people suffering from malaria, but there might be cases where the person may be infected but shows no symptoms of malaria. This happens when the parasite causing the infection, lies dormant in the liver. On a general level, the symptoms of malaria tend to show within 10 to 30 days post the bite of the mosquito and the spread of the infection.

Treatment of Malaria

Though, life-threatening, malaria can be easily treated provided it is detected on time and proper medical attention is received. Severe cases of malaria especially when the parasite concerned is P.falciparum, immediate medical help is needed or malaria can cause severe complications including:

  • Cerebral malaria
  • Breathing problem
  • Organ failure
  • Anaemia
  • Low Glucose level

However, such cases are rare and the right medications can easily control the infection. As per WHO standards, the best existing treatment for malaria is artemisnin-based combination therapy (ACT) that works effectively to kill the parasites in the bloodstream. ACT is prescribed along with a partner drug, which enhances the process. Moreover, cases where the parasites become resistant to the ACT treatment, the partner drug helps to combat the infection. Apart from ACT other medications that are used to treat malaria include (but are not limited to):

  • Chloroquine
  • Doxycycline
  • Quinine
  • Mefloquine
  • Malarone
  • Artemether
  • Primaquine Phosphate

That said, the treatment course for a patient depends on the type of parasite and the severity of the symptoms. Also, the infection can relapse in a patient even after being treated or becoming symptom-free because the parasites might lie dormant and reactivate after some time. 

Prevention of Malaria

Currently, there is no preventive vaccine or medication for malaria. Thus, it is advisable to stay away from mosquito bites since that is the prime cause of malaria. You can use some of the following methods to stay clear of mosquito bites:

  • Wear light-colour clothes that cover your skin completely
  • Tuck in your clothes, as well as tuck you lower into your socks
  • Wear covered shoes
  • Avoid going outdoors, especially during early morning and evening 
  • Use air conditioners
  • Use and carry mosquito repellents
  • Use DEET sprays
  • Avoid places full of filth and more prone to mosquitoes
  • Sleep under mosquito nets

Further, always check with your doctor before travelling to any area that has a high malaria case rate. Moreover, even on a general vacation, check the destination for malaria spread before planning your vacation. Alternatively, you can ask your doctor for some medications to prevent malaria; however, as of today, preventive medications and treatment medications are all the same.

In all, staying aware, informed and following preventive measures is the best way to be safe from this life-threatening disease. 

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