Pharyngitis is nothing but
inflammation of the back of the throat,
i.e. the pharynx (between the tonsils and the larynx).
Pharynx makes up the first part of your throat. This tube is around
12cms long - vaguely funnel-shaped, the wide portion being at the top.
It begins behind your nose and ends behind your Adam’s apple.
Because of its structure, proximity to outside atmosphere and type
of work, it is constantly bombarded with bacteria, fungi,
virus and other irritants. The mucus blanket that covers its tract tries to
trap and sweep them away, and the tonsils try to destroy them, still
when the attack is too much or the strength of these two warriors is
not enough due to low immunity levels - infection strikes and you have
To soothe the throat, promote tonsil
health, support immune functioning.
Throat difficulties are the reason for almost 1/4th of all visits to
the doctor. Sore throats are often the early warning signs of a cold
or flu (infection from streptococcus bacteria is the cause in more
than 1/3rd of the cases; then it is also called strep throat) but
they do exist independently also, mostly due to some other viral or
bacterial infection. Their variety ranges from minor irritations due
to low humidity in winter or too much cheering at a football game to
big time bacterial infection that calls for medical attention.
A sore throat usually lasts for three to four days; if the symptoms
continue for more than that, you should consult your doctor as they
may be an early sign of an illness such as glandular fever or mumps.
You should also consult your doctor if your sore throat symptoms get
severe, or you have an immune deficiency or a history of heart or
Another complication associated with pharyngitis is an abscess which
needs to be removed or drained surgically. Strep throat is most
common among children and teenagers, between the ages of 5 to 15.
When you visit your doctor, s/he will check your temperature and
examine your throat, sinuses, ears, nose, lungs and neck. S/he will
also feel for any swollen lymph nodes which indicate strep throat.
Because so many different viruses and bacteria can cause sore
throats, a throat culture is needed to identify strep. For this, a
swab from your throat may be taken to test for strep infection. A
blood test may be done to check for mononucleosis. If tests indicate
towards a possible mono, your doctor will also examine your abdomen
looking for an enlarged liver or spleen and feel for lymph nodes in
other parts of your body in addition to your neck.
Viral infections, usually due to common cold, flu,
influenza, mononucleosis (often called "mono") or some
allergy (sore throats due to viral infections are
generally more painful than those due to bacterial
Bacterial infections (streptococcus, mycoplasma or
hemophilus, specifically the bacterium streptococcus).
One normally catches such organisms (both virus and
bacteria) through direct contact with someone who has
one of these infections as they are easily passed via
nasal secretions and saliva
Antibiotics are only helpful when a bacterial infection is the
cause of pharyngitis. For viral pharyngitis, antibiotics have
been shown to only affect the degree of sore throat pain
temporarily. Analgesics (pain killers) are also effective, but
there are many simple measures that can also be used. Viral
pharyngitis usually resolves itself without medication. Throat
lozenges or cough medicine are often used for short-term pain
Gargling with warm salt-water may help to relieve pain and
reduce swelling. If the tonsils have been chronically infected,
they may need to be removed surgically (tonsillectomy), although
this should only be a last resort, as the tonsils are a
powerful line of defense in the immune response to infectious
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies
Herbal and homeopathic remedies have been used for centuries to
treat a number of conditions, so it is not surprising to find
that nature’s very own medicine chest has its own sore throat
and pharyngitis treatments. Herbs such as Salvia officinalis
have a beneficial effect on all conditions of the mouth and
throat and have well-known herbal astringent, antibiotic, and
antiseptic properties. Gallium aperine (also known as
Cleavers) is another excellent cleansing tonic that has a
particularly beneficial effect on all the lymph glands,
including the tonsils. This herb is effective in relieving
swollen tonsils and other lymph glands, and is also recommended
for glandular fever.
While these ingredients help relieve troubling pharyngitis
symptoms, other herbal ingredients are especially helpful in
assisting the body’s ability to fight off infection. Olea
europea (extract of Olive leaf) is used to fight a variety of
illnesses and to protect the body against disease, ailments, and
infection of all types. Olea europea destroys viruses by
stimulating the immune system to produce white blood cells and
by preventing the replication of viruses, including the strains
that cause viral pharyngitis– as nature intended. Another
well-known immune strengthening herb is Echinacea purpurea,
commonly used to treat colds and flu and is very well-supported
by research studies.
Gelsemium 6C - This homeopathic remedy well-known for its
ability to reduce the symptoms of sore throat and
influenza. It is also an effective hay fever remedy and
has a calming and soothing effect.
Mercurius solubilis (Merc. Sol.) 6C - This has been used
medicinally in its raw form since the times of Ancient
Egypt to treat a range of infections. However, in more
recent times, medicinal use of raw Merc. Sol. was
discontinued due to the aggressive nature of Merc. Sol.
and the risk of side effects However, in its homeopathic
form, one receives the therapeutic benefits of Merc.
Sol. without the associated side effects in concentrated
forms. Used homeopathically, Merc. Sol. is extremely
effective in the treatment of all mouth and throat
infections, including infected throats, tonsils, tooth
abscess and oral thrush. It is also recommended for
fever as well as infections of the sinus and ears.
Belladonna 30C - This is a homeopathic remedy used for
fast relief of acute fever, pain, headaches, sore
throat, swollen tonsils, dry cough and inflammation and
is especially effective for illnesses which have a
Gallium aperine (also known as Cleavers) - This is an
excellent cleansing tonic and has a particularly
beneficial effect on all the lymph glands, including the
tonsils. Gallium aperine is effective in relieving
swollen tonsils and other lymph glands and is also
recommended for glandular fever.
Salvia officinalis - This has a beneficial effect on all
conditions of the mouth and throat and has well-known
herbal astringent, antibiotic and antiseptic properties.
Hypoxis Rooperi (extract of African Potato)
contains phytosterols and sterolins, which help to
modulate the effect of the immune system. Research has
shown the beneficial effect of plant sterols and
sterolins on the immune system. Research done on a group
of volunteers demonstrated a significant increase in the
number of T-cells, which are involved in enhancing
Agothosma betulina (Buchu) - This is a urinary antiseptic
and possesses diuretic properties. Buchu has been used
by the natives of the Western Cape of South Africa for
many centuries and assists the body to rid itself of
toxins by stimulating the secretion of retained water.
Solidago virgaurea - This herb helps the body in its
ability to routinely regulate mucus and has been used
traditionally by herbalists for centuries as a tonic
remedy to strengthen the natural protective ability of
the body to fight infection.
Schizandra sinesis - This herb is a powerful native
ingredient from China. Schizandra is also used to assist
the body in its capacity to regulate and maintain
healthy energy levels and to routinely protect against
toxins and cell damage. It is effective in helping the
body to perform its natural function of regeneration of
damaged liver tissue, while promoting improved overall
regulation of physiological processes.
Olea europea (extract of olive leaf) - This herb
contains a compound called oleuropein acid that is
effective in helping the body to routinely combat
numerous pathogens (germs). The positive effects of
Olive leaf have recently been demonstrated in a variety
of clinical studies.
unhealthy diet is also considered as a very important factor leading
to sore throat. A diet rich in refined carbohydrates like cakes,
biscuits and sugar decreases the efficiency of your body’s defense
system whereas a diet rich in important micronutrients increase the
immunity level, thereby increasing the body’s resistance to
Some of the key components of a balanced diet are:
Vitamin C - Vitamin C is often touted as a help to
prevent colds although no research has proved it till
now. Still, it is widely believed by medical
practitioners that a diet rich in vitamin C hugely
decreases your susceptibility to infections. It also
stimulates the production of saliva-soothing irritated
membranes. Diet containing fresh fruits and vegetables
should provide you with enough vitamin C in a day
although emphasis must be given on citrus fruits (fresh
fruits in totality and not their juice only) like grapes
and blackberries, as they also contain bioflavonoids,
which together with vitamin C keep the blood capillaries
healthy and also possess anti-inflammatory property.
Vitamin A – According to some researches, a diet rich in
vitamin A is considered best against cold and
Vitamin A is supposed to be the 'membrane conditioner'
as it helps build healthy mucous membranes in the nose
and throat. Usual sources of vitamin A (in the form of
beta carotene) are whole milk, curds, egg yolk, pumpkin,
carrots, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, mangoes, and
B vitamins – B vitamins help to maintain a healthy
immune system and are easily found in whole grains,
pulses and nuts.
Vitamin E – This vitamin also helps in boosting the
immune system. Its sources include avocados, nuts, seed
oils and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin D – It also helps in giving a tremendous fillip
to your body’s defense system. The sources include dairy
products, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring
Dietary Iron – It is very essential for the formation of
antibodies. Rich sources include green leafy vegetables,
oily fish, offal (heart, liver), red meat, eggs.
Zinc - Zinc enhances immune system activity and protects
against a range of infections including colds and upper
respiratory infections. Shellfish and nuts are rich
sources of zinc.
Lactobacillus species (probiotics, or "friendly"
bacteria) are a useful species in treating respiratory
infections such as tonsillitis and for reducing the
chances of developing allergies. Yoghurt contains
lactobacillus, which is a probiotic, which means that it
actually helps fight, rather than cause, infection.
Certain probiotic yoghurts, i.e. the ones which have
even more of such beneficial bacteria lactobacillus are
available in the market which are supposed to enhance
the immunity and prevent and fight against common cold.
They are also of immense help for anybody who is taking
antibiotics as they replace the intestinal bacteria-an
important source of B vitamins-that are destroyed by the
You must avoid spices and condiments as they are a major
irritation to the throat. Sour substances like curds,
buttermilk, and fried foods should also to be avoided.
Increase your fluid intake as most throat problems are
intensified by dehydration. Avoid orange juice as it
burns the already inflamed tonsils; and thick, milky drinks
as they coat the throat and may produce mucus, making
you cough and increase irritation.
Some most effective home made remedies for sore throat
Apply liquorice paste like a paint around the throat for
Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic and cloves and add to a
cupful of honey. Let the mixture remain for a day or
two, afterwards take a teaspoon thrice a day.
Take half a fresh lemon and squeeze into a glass of warm
water, mix with two teaspoons of honey and a pinch of
salt, sip slowly, this will help soothe soreness in the
The juices of carrot, beet and cucumber taken
individually or in combination are considered invaluable
for the treatment of tonsillitis. Proportions found
helpful are carrot 150ml, beet 50ml and cucumber 50ml to
prepare 250ml of combined juice.
The throat may be gargled with hot water mixed with a
little salt and lime juice several times daily. This
will help draw out fluids from the inflamed throat, thus
providing comfort. Remember, do not make gargling sounds
as this may aggravate the soreness.
Sage tea – pour a dessertspoon of chopped fresh leaves
or one teaspoon of dried leaves of sage into a cup of
boiling water. In this, red sage is preferred over
garden sage, but both will work. Gargle with the
solution once it becomes tolerably hot. Remember, do not
make gargling sounds as this may aggravate the soreness.
Egg - Mix an uncooked egg yolk, one tablespoon of sugar
and one tablespoon of brandy or cognac. Swallow every 15
minutes. Alternatively, Mix 1 cup of hot milk, 1 egg
yolk and 1 tablespoon of honey then drink.
Mix 1 cup of salvia, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
and 1-2 tea spoons of sea water. Gargle the mixture
every 30 minutes.
Use a vaporizer or humidifier – Humidifiers increase and
maintain the water vapor in the room and thus help
prevent drying in the nasal passages and throat of the
occupants, but humidifiers may cause humidifier fever,
an ailment caused by bacteria that breed in the
improperly cleaned reservoirs of such devices.
Vaporizers are safer as infection-causing microorganisms
can’t tolerate the steam heat it generates.
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Open your nose – Use nasal decongestants to clear your
nose. Nasal decongestants, whether swallowed, inhaled,
sprayed or as nose drops, shrink swollen nasal membranes
and bring temporary relief from sinus problems, but
using them frequently causes the nasal passages to
become even more congested as their ‘rebound’ effect
ensures even more inflammation of the membranes. It can
take weeks for this swelling to subside after you stop
Steam inhalation – Inhale steam to relieve a stuffed
nose. Fill a bowl with hot water, put a towel over your
head and tilt your head over the bowl in such a way that
the steam is trapped. Inhale deeply for 10 minutes. You
should add some eucalyptus oil (3 drops of essential
oil) for making the steam an even better decongestant.
Don’t smoke – Smoking increases the irritation,
inflammation and infection build up in the already
infected sinuses. It also interferes with the
infection-fighting activity of cilia, the microscopic
projections that sweep bacteria out of the nasal
passages. So, please quit it for the moment at least
otherwise all the medications you take might be
ineffective. It is otherwise known that smokers and
non-smokers are both equally susceptible to cold and
Try to generally control the quality of air around you.
Avoid smoky or dusty atmosphere.
Take a steam bath – A steamy shower has the same effect
on your cold as steam inhalation besides relaxing your