We have all experienced that tingly and scratchy sensation in our throat at some point. You can feel it when you clear your throat and when swallowing starts to become uncomfortable. When this happens to me, it is often accompanied by a runny nose and I start questioning what on earth my body is brewing for me and I head straight to the kitchen to find some ginger. In the back of the mind, I am questioning whether I should be worried about the worldwide pandemic of COVID19.
While a sore throat may be a symptom of quite a few conditions, it can also be the result of an allergic reaction to airborne particles, such as pollen and dust. Popping an ordinary throat lozenge will not be the remedy for a sore throat linked to an allergic reaction. Let’s explore allergies and sore throat – how are they connected?
The Causes of a Sore Throat
A sore throat is a scratchiness, pain, or irritation of the throat that often becomes worse when you swallow. The following are symptoms of a sore throat:
- Pain or a scratchy sensation in your throat
- Pain that becomes worse when you talk or swallow.
- Sore and swollen glands in your jaw or neck.
- Swollen and red tonsils (if you still have them).
- A muffled or hoarse voice
The most common cause behind a sore throat is a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu. A sore throat that is caused by a virus will often resolve itself and is commonly known as pharyngitis.
Viral infections that cause a sore or irritated throat include the following:
- Common cold
- Influenza (or flu)
- Mono (mononucleosis)
- Coronavirus disease or COVID19
A sore throat does not always mean that you have a cold or the flu; there are other causes behind a sore throat. Let’s explore the other causes behind that niggly sore throat.
Strep throat or streptococcal infection is caused by bacteria and can leave you with a very sore throat. Often, this infection requires complex treatment and the intervention of antibiotics. Group A streptococcus is the most common bacterial infection that causes a sore throat.
Some other causes behind a scratchy, sore throat include:
- Dryness: Dry indoor air can cause a dry, scratchy throat, especially when breathing through your mouth.
- Irritants: Indoor and outdoor pollution such as chemicals, and cigarette smoke can cause chronic sore throat. Chewing tobacco can also lead to an irritated throat.
- GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease: This is a digestive disorder that causes stomach acids to rise back up into the food pipe and irritate the throat.
- HIV Infection: A sore throat may appear as an early symptom of HIV.
Here is our link between allergies and a sore throat. We will dive into this cause a little deeper.
A postnasal drip is the main trigger behind an allergy-induced sore throat. It is the result of being exposed to allergens and it occurs when congestion in the sinuses and the nose drains down into the throat. This is what causes the scratchy pain and irritation you feel when you swallow, eat, and talk.
Postnasal drip also causes coughing and excessive swallowing; all of which contribute further to a sore and irritated throat.
Some of the allergens behind your sore throat and congested sinuses include:
- Seasonal pollen
- Dust mites
- Mildew and mold
- Pet dander that is common from cats and dogs
- Cigarette smoke
But What if it is COVID19?
I understand, everyone is panicked about the coronavirus, I question my symptoms too, but in the midst of this pandemic, not every symptom is COVID19. There are many of us suffering from allergies. I have sneezed and coughed in public spaces and received the ghastly stares of those judging me, but I assure everyone that it is all related to allergies and keep my mask on.
Allergy symptoms are typically a runny nose and sinus congestion (which can lead to a sore throat), whereas the Coronavirus may share these same symptoms but most of the time a fever is present too.
While some of the symptoms of an allergy overlap with the common symptoms of the coronavirus, there are some differences
that will help you distinguish between the two.
The Symptoms of the Coronavirus:
- Shortness of Breath
- Muscle and body aches
- A loss of taste and/or smell
- Congestion and runny nose
- Sore throat
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
The coronavirus is spread from one person to another in much the same way as the cold and flu virus. Coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact can lead to the spread of this disease. Personal hygiene is an absolute must, yes you have heard it a million times by now; wash your hands properly, sanitize, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and wear your mask in public.
The Symptoms of Allergies:
Allergy symptoms can be mild to severe and they can occur seasonally. Below are some of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies:
- Runny nose and congestion
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Sore throat
- Ear congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy sensation in the sinuses, ear canals, and throat
Allergies are caused by a response in the body’s immune system to allergens and are not contagious.
Treating Your Sore Throat Naturally
So, we have ruled out viral and bacterial causes, as well as the coronavirus, so how do we treat your allergy-induced sore throat naturally? Let’s take a look at some of the remedies for the pain and inflammation.
This is one of the best natural remedies for a sore throat because honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Two tablespoons of honey mixed in tea or a warm glass of water will help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation.
You can also swallow a tablespoon of honey to coat your throat and ease the scratchy sensation because of its thick, rich texture. Remember that honey cannot be given to an infant below 1 years old because of the bacteria it carries.
Honey has also been used to dress wounds because of its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. To learn more about the healing benefits of honey, click here.
I do not know about you, but if I complained about a sore throat, my mother would make me gargle saltwater. I know, does not sound great, especially if your throat is feeling raw and tender. But it works!
Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe the pain and it will break down the postnasal secretions and mucous that may be causing your allergy-induced sore throat.
Salt has been clinically proven to help draw out water from the oral tissues and it creates a salt barrier on the throat that eases pain, inflammation, and detaches stubborn mucous from the throat too.
You can make a saltwater solution by mixing half a teaspoon of salt into a full glass of luke-warm water.
Another natural remedy that uses saltwater is a baking soda gargle. The National Cancer Institute recommends the following recipe:
Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon of salt in a full cup of warm water and gargle every three hours as needed
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has been used for centuries for its natural medicinal properties, especially for soothing a sore throat.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent properties that all offer pain relief and ease the symptoms of a sore throat.
Drinking chamomile tea helps lubricate your throat and reduce redness and swelling. This is according to the authors of a review article in Molecular Medicine Reports. Some studies have shown that inhaling chamomile steam can also help ease the pain and inflammation of an allergy-induced sore throat.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint contains a powerful compound called menthol. Menthol helps thin mucous and eases the inflammation of a sore throat because it has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Peppermint oil can reduce swelling in the throat and the menthol will offer a calming and cooling sensation for the pain.
Diluted peppermint oil mouth sprays will help coat a sore throat. You can drink a mixture of 1 to 2 drops of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water or apply 1 to 2 drops of diluted peppermint oil to the skin around your throat.
- Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root contains a mucous-like substance that forms a protective coat in your mouth and throat and soothes the pain and irritation.
You can add some dried marshmallow root to a cup of boiling water to make a soothing tea. Sip this tea two to three times a day to ease the pain in your throat.
This impressive and natural root offers strong anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve a sore throat quickly by easing the redness and inflammation.
Research shows that ginger can block pro-inflammatory proteins in the body that cause pain, itching, and inflammation.
You can chew on raw ginger root slices two to three times a day to ease the pain and inflammation of a sore throat. If this does not appeal to you, then you can drink ginger tea (add a little honey for added benefits) or suck on ginger lozenges.
A Soothing Ending
Having a sore throat is uncomfortable and painful, it may also deter you from eating because swallowing may make it worse. You may also feel as though there is a frog in your throat and lose your voice or become hoarse. Thankfully, natural remedies can help ease a sore throat, especially when it is caused by those pesky allergies.
Analyze your symptoms to eliminate the causes of bacterial and viral infections (yes, and the coronavirus). Most times we will think we are coming down with a cold when we have a congested nose and sore throat, but it could be allergies getting in the way and causing your symptoms. Treating your congested nose will also help reduce the postnasal drip that causes irritation, inflammation, and pain in your throat. After all, our sinuses are linked to our throat and allergens will commonly enter the body through the nose and mouth.
Until Next Time