Sore Throat and Chest Pain a Combination to Be Worried About?
The symptoms of sore throat are not always obvious. Sometimes it takes some time before they become apparent. A sore throat may cause coughing, sneezing or even vomiting. These coughs and vomits will usually stop after several hours but sometimes they continue for days. If you have been feeling sick lately, then your body is probably getting rid of something harmful. You might feel better if you drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods.
If you think that you have sore throat, then it’s best to go see a doctor right away. But there are other things that could be causing your symptoms. Here are some possibilities:
You might have bronchitis (inflammation of the air passages) or sinus infection (infection of the nose).
You might have a viral illness such as the flu or chicken pox.
Your immune system might be weak because of aging, smoking, certain medications, etc. Your body doesn’t react well to viruses and bacteria.
It’s possible that you’re suffering from a severe allergic reaction.
You might have a foreign object in your throat. Sometimes people accidentally swallow their dentures, button, or small toys. If the object is large or sharp, it can cause injury inside your throat.
If you feel like you’re going to choke when you take a breath, then you need to seek emergency care immediately.
Most of the time, a sore throat isn’t serious. It’s just the sign of a common cold or the flu. However, there are times when it can be a sign of something more threatening.
If you have severe pain, fever that won’t go away, difficulty swallowing, or persistent hoarseness; then you should get yourself to an emergency room right away. These symptoms could be signs of something serious like bronchitis or even cancer.
An Overview of Sore Throat and Chest Pain Coronavirus
A sore throat is a very common health condition. It can be caused by several factors. Most of the time, it is just a temporary thing and passes after a few days.
There are also times though when it is a sign of something more serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you need to see a doctor right away. These are signs that your sore throat is a symptom of something more serious:
You experience severe pain when swallowing.
You have a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your sore throat lasts for more than 2 weeks.
You have difficulty breathing. This could be a sign of acute epiglottitis or croup.
Your lymph nodes in your neck become swollen. This is a sign that you might have something like cancer or HIV.
If on the other hand your sore throat is accompanied by any of the following, see a doctor as soon as possible:
Coughing or vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours.
Difficulty breathing. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction or asthma.
Ear pain or discharge from the ear. This can be a sign of ear infection or swimmer’s ear.
Sensitivity to light. This may be caused by a sinus infection or eye infection.
Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
General discomfort or malaise. This could be a sign of the flu or gastroenteritis.
What Causes A Sore Throat?
Sore throat is very common among people. It usually is an indication that your body is fighting off an infection of some sort. The most common culprits are the viruses that lead to colds or the flu. A cold virus is less dangerous than the flu virus but it can still be serious for some people especially those with a suppressed immune system (immunocompromised). The flu virus on the other hand can be extremely dangerous especially to people in high risk groups such as the elderly, children, or those suffering from certain types of medical conditions.
There are different types of sore throat. Each of these has a different cause and requires a different treatment. They include:
Acute Pharyngitis: Also known as a strep throat, this is an inflammation of the pharynx. It is typically caused by Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (a type of bacteria) and is treatable with antibiotics.
Tonsillitis: An inflammation of the tonsils is typically caused by a virus. It can be very uncomfortable but usually not life-threatening when treated properly.
Epiglottitis: This condition causes an inflammation of the epiglottis (a flap that protects the windpipe while swallowing). It is typically caused by a bacterial infection and if left untreated, it can cause suffocation and death.
Croup: This is a swelling of the epiglottis and the tissue that surrounds it. It is most commonly caused by a virus and can be treated with medication and relief of symptoms.
Acute Laryngitis: This type of sore throat is an inflammation of the larynx (voice box). It causes the vocal cords to swell up and results in loss of voice or hoarseness. It is sometimes associated with an infection but does not require antibiotics.
How Is It Treated?
Most of the time a sore throat will just go away within 2 weeks. The following home remedies can help to make you more comfortable:
Drink lots of water: This can help to keep you hydrated and thin out any mucus in your throat. However, if you have a fever or severe pain it’s best to limit or avoid drinking as much as you can.
Avoid smoke: If you smoke you should probably quit now. If you don’t smoke then it’s best to avoid it if possible. Many people think it helps soothe a sore throat but in reality it can cause more damage and pain.
Use over the counter pain medicine: There are a wide range of pain relievers (both topical and taken internally) available without a prescription. Consult your doctor or a pharmacist before using any medications.
Get rest: While this is easier said than done, rest is important when you’re sick. Try to relax as much as possible and get plenty of sleep. Sleeping will also help to ease the pain and keep you hydrated.
Use a humidifier: This can help keep the mucus in your throat from drying out and making it even more painful.
Eat spicy foods: Some people claim that spicy foods help to numb and soothe a sore throat. Others say it does nothing at all. Experiment for yourself to see if it helps.
Vitamin C: This vitamin is known to boost the immune system and aid in healing. Many people claim that they feel much better (or even cured) after taking high doses of Vitamin C.
Garlic: There is a long history of using garlic for treating illness and sickness. While there isn’t a lot of evidence to prove its effectiveness, some people swear by it.
Home Remedies to Avoid
While there are many home remedies that are perfectly safe and helpful for treating a sore throat, there are some that are dangerous and can make the situation much worse.
Alcohol: While it may seem like drinking alcohol would help to numb the pain, in reality it can easily aggravate it and cause severe pain.
Cough medicines: Many cough medicines contain a number of active ingredients that can lead to nausea, vomiting and even drowsiness. In some cases it can even cause allergic reactions in certain people.
Sugar: Yes, having something sweet can be appealing when you have a sore throat but it’s not good for you. Stay away from sodas and candies and stick to drinking water or other clear liquids.
Tea and coffee: While these drinks may seem appealing they’re not helping. Caffeine is a dehydrating agent and will only cause more pain and discomfort.
How Did I Get It?
The human mouth and throat are home to many different types of organisms, some of which are helpful and some which can cause disease. It is always possible that a virus, bacteria or parasite passed from another person (or even yourself) has made its home in your throat. Other ways you may have contracted the infection are:
Unprotected sexual contact
Eating raw meat
Preparing food with unclean hands
A direct contact with another infected person
How Long Does It Last?
A sore throat can last for just a few days to more than a week. If it persists for more than two weeks you should seek medical attention.
In most cases, complications aren’t likely to occur with a sore throat, especially if you take care of yourself and limit the activities that may worsen the pain. However, sometimes the pain can become severe and limit your ability to sleep, eat or drink. If this occurs, you’ll need to seek medical attention.
If you have a fever above 100 degrees, severe pain in the neck or have trouble breathing you need to seek emergency medical attention right away. Doing so can help avoid a more serious underlying condition causing the sore throat.
When to See a Doctor
You should seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
Anxiety or depression
Fever above 100 degrees
Swelling, redness or pain in the neck lymph nodes
Pain increases rapidly
Mild symptoms that do not improve after a week
What Does the Doctor Do?
There are a few different ways your doctor can approach diagnosing your condition. It all depends on their professional opinion and your personal medical history as well. Here are some of the methods used by your doctor:
Throat cultures: In this test, a small sampling of the infected area is taken and sent to a lab to be cultured. This allows the doctors to identify the exact organism causing the infection and begin creating a treatment plan based on that information.
Blood tests: A small sample of your blood can be taken and tested for signs of illness. It can tell the doctors if there is an infection in your body or signs of a more serious condition.
It is important to take care of yourself when you have a sore throat since it’s easier for other more serious conditions to make themselves at home in your body if you don’t get the infection treated right away. That said, if you do happen to have a serious condition it is important that you seek treatment right away.
Most sore throats are caused by a virus or bacteria and in those cases antibiotics typically won’t work. In fact, using antibiotics when they aren’t necessary contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. That will make antibiotics less effective in the future for everyone.
Here are some tips you can use to take care of yourself and treat your infection:
Drink lots of water
Humidify the air in your home (especially helpful for those with chronic coughs)
Take a warm bath with salt to help soothe the pain
Avoid smoke (secondhand or otherwise) and pollution as much as possible
Eat garlic, as it has antibiotic properties and can help fight off infection. You can take garlic capsules or just eat a lot of garlic!
Get lots of rest
It’s also important to manage stress, as it can worsen the symptoms of a sore throat. Activities like yoga, tai chi and even meditation can help you relax. Your doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help with the pain and swelling.
However, you shouldn’t take aspirin if you’re allergic to it or have a history of stomach ulcers.
If your sore throat persists for more than two weeks, you should seek medical attention as it could be a sign of cancer or a rare but serious infection called Strep Throat. If you experience any difficulty breathing or severe pain you should seek immediate medical attention.
Most sore throats clear up after a few days so, as long as you take it easy and stay hydrated, you should be feeling better soon. Stay healthy this winter and take those vitamins!
Have you ever had strep throat? Do you take vitamins every day?
Tell us about it in the comments!
UP NEXT: Why Is My Skin Blue?
Sources & references used in this article:
Self-care responses to symptoms by older people: A health diary study of illness behavior by EP Stoller, LE Forster, S Portugal – Medical care, 1993 – JSTOR
The angry liver, the anxious heart and the melancholy spleen by T Ots – Culture, medicine and psychiatry, 1990 – Springer
Clinical aspects, diagnosis and treatment of anthrax by AM Friedlander – Journal of Applied Microbiology, 1999 – Wiley Online Library
Chronic fatigue syndrome: a working case definition by GP Holmes, JE Kaplan, NM Gantz… – Annals of internal …, 1988 – acpjournals.org
Seeking medical care in response to symptoms and life stress by L Cameron, EA Leventhal, H Leventhal – Psychosomatic medicine, 1995 – journals.lww.com
… from the American Heart Association Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis, and Kawasaki Disease Committee of the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, the … by MA Gerber, RS Baltimore, CB Eaton, M Gewitz… – Circulation, 2009 – Am Heart Assoc
Definitions of infection for surveillance in long-term care facilities by A McGeer, B Campbell, TG Emori, WJ Hierholzer… – American journal of …, 1991 – Elsevier
Negative affectivity and enhanced symptom reports: Differentiating between symptoms in men and women by I Van Diest, S De Peuter, A Eertmans, K Bogaerts… – Social Science & …, 2005 – Elsevier
ESCMID Guideline for the management of acute sore throat by M Paul – Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2012 – ogur.org