Murray Grossan, MD.
About the author: Dr. Grossan is an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon with the Tower Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the founder of the Web-based Grossan Sinus & Health Institute (https://www.grossaninstitute.com). He is the author of Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy Problems Permanently.
Everyone gets a sore throat at some time. The nose and throat are constantly defending against outside elements and bacteria. When bacteria settle in the nose, the bacteria are seized and dragged off to “battle stations” or lymph glands where the good white cells are kept. More good blood comes to the area. There, the concentration of good white cells can overwhelm the bacteria. But when the lymph material swells, this causes a painful throat. The throat infection may be from a bacteria or a virus. It may be part of a generalized infection
There are 3 parts to the throat: the part behind the nose at the top of the throat called the nasopharynx where the tubes that run from the ears to the nose open, the middle throat where the tonsils are located and where you can often look at the throat, called the oropharynx and the lower part, behind and below the tongue, where the larynx or voice box is, the laryngopharynx.
When the top one third of the throat is affected, the ears may be infected too because the infection travels up the eustachian tube into the middle ear. When the lower 1/3 of the throat is infected, you may be hoarse because the larynx is swollen and can’t function see Laryngitis or hoarseness. Many people get hoarse because they gargle with a sore throat, which is like rubbing your eyes when they are infected.
When you feel a sore throat coming on, aspirin chewing gum, any flavor is recommended. Ice drinks are best when there is swelling or pain.
The throat is especially painful when the uvula, the part that hangs down the middle of the throat from the soft palate, swells . The uvula can also swell as an allergic reaction, just as the eye or nose can. Ice is good, as well as an antihistamine. Sometimes crackers or tostados can scratch the uvula and cause swelling. Swelling of the uvula doesn’t serve any useful purpose.
The uvula functions to rise up when you swallow to keep food from going up into the nose. Infection can come here as well as to the tonsils or the back of the throat, except that swelling of the uvula is quite frightening because of fear it will obstruct the air way. It rarely does, but it feel like it.
With a sore throat, the uvula is often involved. Gargling will cause it to swell. Drinking very hot fluids will swell the uvula as well, causing discomfort. Warm drinks help the throat heal and ice drinks take the pain down. Do both
Swelling of the throat for whatever cause is helped by ice drinks and proteolytic enzyme tablets with papin and bromelain (make sure you use a formula with calibrated enzyme activity), one three times a day dissolved in the mouth between the cheeks and the gums. In the emergency room the doctor may give a cortisone or similar injection.
If your throat stays sore and you feel “real sick” all over, you do need to be checked.
If you have trouble opening your mouth and your voice sounds like you have a potato in it, you may have a serious throat abscess and this is a “must see the doctor” condition.
If you get frequent sore throats and frequent hoarseness you should try pulsatile throat irrigation on a daily basis. This washes away surface bacteria and massages the area so that fresh blood comes in and stale old blood leaves.
Many patients are frightened when they see white spots on the tonsils. This is perfectly O.K. These are the dead white cells and dead bacteria that accumulate in the holes of the tonsils called crypts. Here the tonsils are just doing their job.