CAUSES OF SORE THROATS AND THROAT INFECTIONS:
Most sore throats are caused by viral or bacterial infections such as a cold (viral) or a Streptococcus infection (bacterial). Irritants such as smoke, dust, fumes or a bad cough can also be responsible. Most sore throats are not serious but may be accompanied by a cold, a runny nose and an ear infection, particularly in children. Generally they run their course in a few days to a week. However it is important to assess what type of infection you are dealing with from the onset. If you take action immediately you should be able to avoid the need for medical intervention.
Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the throat, laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box and tonsillitis an inflammation of the tonsils and all begin with a sore throat, which can be viral or bacterial. A sore throat can signal a cold or flu, as well as many childhood diseases such as measles, chickenpox or scarlet fever. A streptococcus infection is highly contagious and so spreads very easily amongst children and families. It is more common in children over three years of age and tends to come on very quickly. Symptoms are a high temperature, red and swollen tonsils with white blotches, and tender, swollen lymph nodes at the side of the neck.
If you think you are dealing with an infection of this kind, or anything else more serious see your doctor for a diagnosis. If antibiotics are prescribed it would be wise to take a probiotic supplement afterwards to replenish levels of good bacteria in the gut - see Probiotics and Probiotics for Babies & Children
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly fresh juices diluted with water.
- For children try making frozen lollypops out of fresh juices and add liquid herbs such as echinacea and goldenseal if you need to hide the taste.
- To coat and soothe a sore throat try making a drink of hot water with freshly grated ginger, fresh lime or lemon juice and manuka honey - see Functional Foods for manuka honey.
- If swallowing is difficult or painful eat soft and tender food by poaching and steaming, try homemade soups and cold fruit purees or yoghurt.
- Avoid eating foods that are hot and spicy, salty or acidic as these can irritate the throat.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT:
Much can be done to support the immune system naturally for babies, children and adults during illness
See Coughs & Colds in the Family Pharmacy section for all the products detailed below.
'ImmunActin Throat Syrup' with elderberry, white willow and slippery elm and 'ImmunActin Throat Spray' (suitable from four years of age) with olive leaf, elderberry and echinacea are both soothing and effective for use with sore throats.
Propolis - produced by bees this is a combination of tree resin, beeswax and enzymes used to protect the hive. It contains bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants which help to support the immune system. Propolis has a soothing and cooling action on the throat.
For adults the 'Propolis Herbal Elixir' is designed to support the immune system during winter illnesses. For children over two years of age the 'Children's Lemon & Honey Elixir' combines natural Manuka Honey, Bee Propolis and Echinacea, in an alcohol-free formulation. This elixir is designed to pleasantly provide soothing temporary relief in a tasty lemon and honey flavour and can be used to help support the immune system.
Herbal Lozenges - there are a variety of natural herbal lozenges designed to ease sore throats, for children and adults.
Follow the Coughs & Colds link for all these products.
Homeopathy - homeopathy is excellent for throat infections and children usually respond very quickly. If your child has had many courses of antibiotics homeopathic treatment may not immediately stop the infection, however if you persevere you can find that the severity and frequency of attacks reduces. Belladonna is very often indicated for young children with throat problems, however read the information below first to make sure it fits the symptoms.
Use Aconite 30c for complaints that come on very suddenly and violently, after exposure to cold, dry winds, if there is restlessness, anxiety or fear, a high fever and a thirst for cool drinks. Use Belladonna 30c for complaints that come on very suddenly and with great intensity, with a high fever, a hot head and a red face and neck, with cold extremities, a lack of thirst and for problems that are right-sided. Use Ferrum Phos 30c at the beginning, if there is inflammation but very few other symptoms, except that the cheeks may be pink, or Lycopodeum 30c if the infection and pain moves from the left to the right - see Homeopathy for these remedies. See the Homeopathic Kits for sets containing a range of different remedies.
Give one dose every half an hour to every two hours depending on the severity, for three to six doses in one day. Once you see or feel an improvement reduce to one to two doses a day.
NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.
The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, if you feel you need a higher potency, or you are prone to throat infections contact a professional homeopath.
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.