The throat, the ring-like muscular tube, containing the pharynx and larynx, plays a very important role in respiratory, ingestion, and speech function. Any abnormality related to the throat, whether caused by bacteria, virus, allergens, or any underlying conditions, affects your day-to-day life. One such very common abnormality is the sore throat, also called pharyngitis– an infection caused by cold or flu virus, bacteria like streptococcal, or several types of allergens. Sore throat caused by virus heals naturally and bacterial infection may require antibacterial medications, what if the cause of sore throat is allergies?
Runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, coughing, and sneezing are common symptoms of infection caused by viral, bacterial, and allergic reactions. But if the symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes of the neck, and muscular pain then the underlying cause might not be an allergic reaction. If you have an itchy throat, watery eyes, along with other symptoms then it could be an allergic sore throat and it normally lasts longer.
If your immune system is weak to endure seasonal changes, then seasonal allergies might develop oral allergy syndrome in response to eating certain foods. Allergic reactions to certain food allergens may cause itchy mouth, scratchy irritated throat, and swelling of lips and mouth. Seasonal allergy-induced sore throat is very common and it could be effectively treated with some medication and home remedies.
Allergic Sore Throat and Effects
The throat is very sensitive in nature and frequently gets infected due to one reason or the other. One of the most common symptoms across all age groups is the itchy throat—mostly caused by a reaction to certain allergens. It is important to understand what type of allergens irritates your throat leading to scratchy feeling and ensuing discomfort in swallowing. Here are some of the common allergens and their side effects to help you prevent allergic sore throat:
Postnasal Drip: Exposure to allergens like pollen grains and seasonal changes can trigger allergic response leading to nasal congestion and sinus darning down to the throat. Excessive draining could cause coughing, irritation, speech difficulty, and result in tickling or scratchy pain in the throat. Besides seasonal irritants, you might be extra sensitive to allergens like dust mites, mold or mildews, pet dander, and smoke.
Food Allergy: Several people experience allergic reactions to certain food items, like peanut butter, dairy, or strawberries. Consuming allergy-causing food items triggers an immune system response in your body, resulting in primary symptoms like nasal congestion, teary eyes, and in extreme cases asphyxiation. If not treated in time, it could be fatal.
Pollutants: Anything that is not fit for the human body triggers the auto-immune response. One of the biggest culprits of the modern era is the chemical pollutants that could trigger allergic reactions leading to a sore throat. So, if you are experiencing an aggressive immune response to certain chemicals like cleaning products, pesticides, or paints you should better maintain a healthy distance from such irritants to keep your throat safe. It all starts with an itchy throat and can progress to soreness and pain.
Allergic Sore Throat Treatments
Following a thorough examination and certain allergen tests, your doctor will determine the possible sore throat-causing allergies. With suitable medications, you will get back to normalcy in just a few weeks, but preventing allergies is the best possible long-term solution to keep your throat healthy. Your doctor will recommend certain measures to limit your exposure to the allergen.
Besides allergen contact control measures, you have to be careful about your contact with common irritants like smoke, dust, and pollen. You should wear a surgical mask, especially, during seasonal changes to avoid contact with airborne allergens. Depending on the severity of your allergic reaction, the doctor will recommend certain medications to boost immune response and allergic shots to help you avoid a possible allergic reaction. Some of the most prescribed medications for allergic sore throat are:
Taking antihistamines and cetirizine during seasonal changes could help you avoid an allergic reaction. If the allergic reaction is severe or consistent, your doctor might recommend high-strength medication to alleviate allergic symptoms. To treat sore throat, your physician might prescribe nasal spar and decongestants.
The effectiveness of allergic sore throat treatment depends on identifying the exact allergen, so your doctor might recommend tests like prick tests and blood tests to prevent unwanted exposure to allergens. In some cases, doctors recommend immunotherapy to strengthen your immune system to cope with the allergic reaction. Administering small doses of the allergen in allergy shots therapy helps in reducing the body’s reaction to a specific allergen. Following the long-term term treatment with some preventive measures, you will have allergic reaction-free life with a perfectly healthy throat. The allergy shot treatment involves administering 2 doses every week for 6 months, followed by monthly shots for 3-5 years.
Natural Remedies for Induced Allergies
Unlike bacteria or virus-induced sore throat, the allergen-induced sore throat takes longer to recover. With antibiotic medication, your sore throat, caused by bacteria, will heal in a week or so, but it might take 2-3 weeks to treat it caused by an allergic reaction, that too when allergens are identified and specifically treated. Since it could affect your daily life, natural remedies are highly effective in soothing symptoms like itchiness, scratchy feeling, and discomfort. Some of the time-tested home remedies for sore throat are:
Drink Plenty of Water: Oral dryness worsens the sore throat symptoms, so drinking plenty of water boosts saliva secretion, thus soothes your throat. If you have congestion then drinking optimum fluid could help in thinning the mucus.
Warm Liquid: If the onset of winter affects your throat, you could increase the intake of warm liquids like soup and tea. Altering the pH of the oral space is the key, so gargling with lukewarm salt water could help in easing symptoms. However, you should avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol as they could dehydrate and irritate your throat.
Neti Pots: Pouring specially formulated saltwater into nasal passages helps in flushing sinuses and decongesting your nasal cavity, thus reducing the dryness caused by oral breathing. However, you need to be cautious in using this remedy as this could cause some uneasiness.
Take Rest: Histamine response is linked with the body’s metabolic activity, so taking optimum rest helps in easing sore throat symptoms caused by allergens. Try to avoid unnecessary talking, as it could increase your discomfort. It is always better to stay indoors, as infection could spread to others.
Keep Room Air Humid: Dry air irritates sinuses and throat, so try to keep the room humid using a humidifier. You can use a steamy bathroom as it helps in soothing congestion and sore throat. Keep your humidifier clean as molds can worsen the scratchy feeling.
Herbal Remedies: Natural anti-inflammatory food items like ginger, garlic, lemongrass, slippery elm, licorice root, are marshmallow roots known to be effective in soothing sore throat. However, you should get your doctor’s advice if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffering from gastrointestinal conditions. Avoiding contact with allergens is the best possible remedy so create an allergen-free environment and take the necessary precaution when going outdoors.
When to Seek Medical Help for Allergic Sore Throat
Itchy throat, whether caused by seasonal changes, bacterial infection, or viruses, is pretty common so most people ignore it and wait for it to heal naturally with certain home remedies. It is fact sore throat heals naturally in most cases in a few days, but if it persists for longer than a week and itchiness are accompanied by wheezing, breathing difficulty, or swallowing pain, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately as sore throat could be due to allergic reaction.
Your doctor will ask questions related to symptoms, recent medications, sore throat seasonal pattern, and your family medical history. Simple questions could be a strong clue for your doctor to identify the possible sore throat causing allergies and recommend suitable treatment at the earliest to help you recover faster. If you experience an itchy throat on the onset of seasonal changes then this could be due to exposure to pollen grains or certain chemicals, so share all possible details with your doctor.
Following primary examination of throat redness, swelling, sinus, and nasal drainage, your doctor will recommend some allergic tests to diagnose the exact allergen. Besides, the doctors recommend keeping a food journal to help you track food-specific allergic symptoms. Follow your doctor’s advice strictly and take prescribed medications to avoid allergic reactions.
Sore throat is very common across all age groups, races, gender, and geographies, and it is not a matter of concern in most cases as it goes away on its own in a few days with certain medication and home remedies. However, sore throat recurs frequently or symptoms worsen, you should consult your doctor at the earliest as it could be allergen-induced, which if not controlled in time could have serious repercussions.
Your doctors will prescribe some symptoms relieving medications and recommend some tests to identify allergens. Once allergens are identified, your doctor will recommend preventive measures and, if required, prescribe allergic shots and immune booster therapies to help you avoid allergic sore throat. If you are experiencing its symptoms, you can try home remedies for a few days and take OTC medications. But if the condition worsens, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately to protect your throat.
- Worrall, G. J. (2007). “Acute sore throat”.
- Spinks, A., Glasziou, P. P., & Del Mar, C. B. (2013). “Antibiotics for sore throat”.
- Pichichero, M. E. (1997). “Sore throat after sore throat after sore throat: Are you asking the critical questions?”.
- Chapple, P. A. L., Franklin, L. M., Paulett, J. D., Tuckman, E., Woodall, J. T., Tomlinson, A. J. H., & McDonald, J. C. (1956). “Treatment of acute sore throat in general practice”.