By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 08 July 2020
One of UK’s most common health complaints throughout the winter months, sore throats can cause pain, discomfort and loss of voice.
Superintendent Pharmacist Jagdeesh Cheema of allcures.com looks at the most common causes of sore throats experienced in winter and what you can do to both avoid and manage them.
“It’s common for those regularly exercising outdoors, particularly runners, to experience sore throats. Cold air is very dry and inhaling cold air as you run can dry out the delicate tissues that line your mouth and throat causing severe irritation and moderate inflammation. In addition, mouth breathing when you exercise outdoors can also be problematic.
This is because air that is inhaled through the mouth doesn’t travel through the nasal canal or paranasal sinuses and is therefore not filtered, warmed and humidified as it would be when inhaled through the nose also leading to irritation. This can lead to discomfort and a sore or scratchy sensation in the throat after exercising.
Keep hydrated during and after exercising and if possible, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when you run. Calm throat irritation afterwards with an over the counter throat remedy such as the anti-inflammatory Grether’s Redcurrant Sugar free Pastilles. Guaranteed to soothe at the first signs of irritation and based on a 160-year-old formula.”
Cold & Flu season
“According to Public Health England “In the last week (10th January 2019), the flu indicators we track have reached low levels meaning flu is now circulating in the community in England.” Cold and flu is an unwelcome yet inevitable part of British winter time. When you catch a cold virus, vocal cords swell and rub together which lends a rasp to our speech. This irritation is further aggravated by an urge to clear the throat from phlegm which makes the swelling worse and can lead to coughing. A blocked nose affects the ability to project the voice causing extra strain when talking.
When you consider that 1/3 of people working in the UK today depend on their voices to do their work, it’s no surprise that most will return to work before their voice has had proper chance to fully recover. Going back to work too early when your voice is still hoarse could result in long term damage to your voice so it’s important not to rush the recovery process. Loss of voice (acute laryngitis) may take 3-5 days to heal so ensure you allow ample recovery time.”
Be cautious when choosing cold & flu remedies
“Certain decongestants are known to dry the vocal tract and nasal passages and slow the production of saliva which leads to a greater chance of conditions such as dry mouth developing. Keep hydrated, gargle with salt water to help clear bacteria and choose OTC remedies that will lubricate the mouth and throat.”
“As temperatures drop, central heating levels go up! Although this is great in terms of keeping you nice and warm throughout the winter months, central heating zaps the air of moisture making it drier than usual which can have a detrimental effect on your voice.
Avoid the harmful effects that central heating can have on your voice by investing in a no-heat humidifier to add water vapour to the air. Alternatively, place a bowl of water on top of the radiator as this will have the same effect. Drink water regularly throughout the day, and if you do start to experience throat irritation lubricate with an over the counter remedy such as Grether’s Pastilles.”
“There’s nothing better than a steaming hot cup of your favourite tea or coffee when it’s cold outside but be aware of drinking something too hot as this can damage the delicate lining of your throat and mouth and exacerbate the pain of an already sore throat. Drink when they’ve cooled a little (lukewarm is ideal) and avoid caffeinated drinks as caffeine contributes to dehydration and can contribute to your throat becoming dry and sore.”