Sore throats, Tonsillitis & Strep throat
If you would like further in depth help with a throat infection or tonsillitis or other acute illness then please get in touch or make an appointment for my half hour Drop In Phone/Skype Clinic. Existing patients and those with short queries are welcome to use my FREE 15 minute Check in appointment for advice. Those with more longstanding complaints should book a full Face2Face of Skype consultation. I work internationally via Skype or face-to-face in Brixton, London.
What is a throat infection? A sore throat - discomfort, dryness, pain or scratchiness in the throat and perhaps pain on swallowing is often the first sign of a cold, flu, laryngitis, mumps or glandular fever. When the nose or sinuses become infected, drainage can run down the back of the throat and irritate it, especially at night. A sore throat from a cold often gets better or goes away after the first day or two. The vast majority of sore throats are caused by viral infections which means that most sore throats will NOT respond to antibiotics. A sore throat on its own without accompanying cold or flu symptoms may also be caused by an irritation to your throat like cigarette smoke, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (where tiny splashes of acid leak up from the stomach) or allergies.
What is viral tonsillitis? Viral Tonsillitis is a painful inflammation or infection of the tonsils by a virus that causes colds or flu where the tissue masses located at the back of the throat become involved. Symptoms usually include a (fever) over 38C/100.4F, coughing, headache, earache, feeling sick, feeling tired, swollen or painful lymph glands in your neck, and loss of voice or changes to your voice. Foul breath (halitosis) may also occur.
What is bacterial Tonsillitis? This is caused by a bacteria rather than a virus and usually comes with white pus-filled spots on the tonsils, no cough, and swollen or tender lymph glands. Foul breath (halitosis) may also occur. Most cases of tonsillitis resolve in three to seven days. However, if the tonsillitis lasts longer than a week or keeps returning this is known as recurrent or 'chronic' tonsillitis and is a sign that your general health is compromised and need checking by a doctor along with a visit to a homeopath for constitutional treatment.
Complications of tonsillitis. Complications are thankfully rare and usually only occur in bacterial tonsillitis. They are usually due to the infection spreading to another part of the body. Possible complications of tonsillitis include: a middle ear infection (otitis media), quinsy (peritonsillar abscess) –an abscess (bag of pus) that develops between a tonsil and the throat wall, or obstructive sleep apnoea where the throat relaxes during sleep leading to breathing difficulties and disturbed sleep.
Other Rare complications from tonsillitis can happen if the underlying bacterial infection is left untreated. They include: scarlet fever – a condition that causes a distinctive pink-red skin rash, rheumatic fever – this causes widespread inflammation throughout the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain, rashes and jerky body movements, glomerulonephritis – an infection (swelling) of the filters in the kidneys that can cause vomiting and a loss of appetite. *A call to NHS Direct (111) or your GP is essential if you suspect any of these complications.
What is 'strep' throat? Strep throat is specifically an infection due to the Group A streptococcus bacteria, another cause of sore throats and tonsillitis. With strep throat, the throat infection is often more severe than normal tonsillitis and persists beyond a few days. Strep throat is also a sign that your general health is compromised and you need checking by a doctor along with a visit to a homeopath for constitutional treatment.
Is a sore throat a serious health problem?
While very debilitating and painful, most simple sore throats or tonsillitis resolve within a few days. However severe or long lasting (chronic) Tonsillitis or Strep throat can make a person feel seriously unwell for an extended period of time and complications as listed above may arrive. The NHS advise for sore throats is that you seek medical help if you fit into any of the categories below.
See your GP for advice and treatment if:
your symptoms are severe
you have persistent symptoms that haven't started to improve after a week
you experience severe sore throats frequently
you have a weak immune system – for example, you have HIV, are having chemotherapy, or are taking medication that suppresses your immune system
Seek emergency A&E treatment if:
your symptoms are severe or getting worse quickly
you have difficulty breathing
you're making a high-pitched sound as you breathe (called stridor)
you have difficulty swallowing
you start drooling
Some self help measures:
* Avoid smoking and smoky places.
* Keep the throat hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids, either cold or warm, but avoid very hot drinks.
* Take plenty of Vitamin C and a course of garlic pills (squeezed into orange juice for children), and increase intake of zinc.
* Make up a Hypericum & Calendula solution gargle (5 drops mother tincture of each to 0.25 litre [½ pint] boiled cooled water). Gargle every 4 hours.
* Adults can try gargling with half a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water (not recommended for children).
* Drink honey lemon; honey coats the throat, protecting it from irritants and lemon helps cut the mucus.
* Eat cool, soft foods like live yoghurt, custard or fruit puree (or ice cream, but not too much!)
* Suck herbal lozenges, ice cubes or homemade ice lollies (don't give young children anything small and hard to suck due to risk of choking).
Can I use Homeopathy for a Throat infection?
First Aid Homeopathy means that you will need an homeopathic remedy kit as part of your home medicine cabinet such as the Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy 'Basic 36' (30c) and 'Emergency' kits (200c). If you don't yet have a kit, you can call Helios and they will advise over the phone and send the right remedies out the same or next day. You may also find the remedy you are looking for at your local Holland & Barrett or health food store.
If you suffer from throat infections frequently then a visit to your GP alongside constitutional homeopathic treatment to address your overall health is recommended. If you need help right now for a throat infection then you can try one of the remedies from the list below. Choose the remedy where the symptoms listed for it fit best to your symptoms. You may not have all the symptoms, but one or two will stand out.
Sudden onset, made worse by cold dry winds * Throat dry * Tonsils swollen * Very thirsty * Throat is red, rough * Throat feels constricted, burning, numb, tingling * Hoarse voice *
Back of throat (fauces) bright red, swollen, and shiny * Uvula swollen * Pain is burning and stinging * Pain may extend into the ear * Person may be irritable and agitated * Sore throat can be due to allergy *
Sensation of a splinter in the throat when swallowing * Clear tenacious mucus * Rawness in pharynx and larynx with altered voice *
Useful in badly ulcerated sore throat, with extremely offensive putrid mouth odour * May be painless *
* Tonsils so inflamed they are 'kissing' or touching in the middle * Comes on after every cold * Smarting, stinging pains * Excess salivation * Sensation as of a plug in throat, worse when swallowing solids & from 'empty' swallowing * Tonsils tend to suppurate * Worse right side * Tonsil show chronic induration (hardened/fibrous) * Can be brought on by exposure to cold air *
Throat very sore and tender to the touch * Fiery pains, with spasms of shooting pains into the head whenever person moves * Pain worse right side * Stiff tender neck * Pupils dilated * Tongue 'strawberry' red and coated at centre * Sore throats of catarrhal origin, rapid in progress * Great dryness and brightness of the throat * Throat has glazed look and fauces (at back of throat) are inflamed * Tonsils swollen and enlarged * Constant desire to swallow * Constricted sensation in the throat, worse from swallowing, both liquids or food which can be ejected through the nose * Thirstless *
Chronic swelling of the tonsils especially in children * Pain on opening mouth * Deafness * Difficulty swallowing * Husky voice *
Front of mouth normal, back of throat yellowish and coated * Person craves fresh air * Tonsil abscess threatening or abscess already releasing pus * Useful in last stage of tonsillitis * Person may be irritable, spiteful *
Highly inflamed throat * Throat spasms and a feeling of intense constriction * Throat feels on fire * Pain centres on the back of the throat * Useful at the start of catarrhal sore throats *
Often comes alongside a chronic dripping nose, earache or backache * Throat is raw and burning * Thick tenacious saliva * Hoarse voice Worse from exposure to cold, damp or after exercise * Cold sores around mouth * Red itching skin like nettle rash * Thirsty for cold drinks * Better for moving about *
Nasty taste in mouth * Pains in neck and ears worse by swallowing * Swallowing hurts too much to drink * Feels hot and cold by turns * Feels heavy, exhausted * Person feels generally weak and trembly *
Sharp splinter-like pains in the throat * Sensation of a lump in the throat or fish bone caught in throat * Foul breath * Pussy sore throat, abcesses on tonsils * Yellow pus may be coughed up * Shivery and chilly * Much worse or caused by draughts or cold weather * Better for warm drinks and being wrapped up warm * Person may be irritable and oversensitive *
Starts on left and then can move to right side * Sensation of a lump in the throat * Throat or tonsils are blueish red * Pain better for eating but worse for 'empty' swallowing or liquids * Constricted throat * Difficulty breathing * Worse after sleep * External throat is sensitive * Pain may extend into the ear *
Pains alternate from one side of throat to the other * Back of throat covered in white, silvery film * Viscous sticky saliva * Symptoms often coincide with the menses in women *
Starts right side and can move to left side * Tongue dry and puffy but not coated * Worse for cold drinks and food, worse 4-8pm * Associated with toothache, wind or anxiety about a forthcoming performance *
Throat is raw, dry, burning, dark red and swollen * Excessive saliva, burns throat when swallowed * Needs to swallow constantly * Sore, swollen glands * Tongue yellow, coated, may have indentation marks from teeth at the sides * Offensive breath * Worse on right side, when speaking, at night * Can come on after change of weather * Waves of hot sweats making symptoms worse * Thirsty *
Splinter-like sensation in throat due to ulcers on tonsils * Tonsils thickly coated in slimy film * Sores at corner of mouth * Stringy saliva * Thirstless except on waking * Pain may extend into the ear *
Irritated throats of smokers, drinkers and public speakers * Rawness and scraping in the throat caused by tobacco smoke, alcohol or overuse of the voice * Chronic pharyngitis * Possible white patches in the throat * Dry cough *
Throat is dark, tonsils are dark red, swollen * Throat feels sore, pain on swallowing at the root of the tongue or extending into the ears * Right side worse * Aching back and limbs * Worse for heat * Neck glands enlarged * Person is exhausted, uncommunicative and feels very ill * Suits chronic follicular pharyngitis with a constant desire to clear the throat or sensation of a hot ball in the throat worse for hot drinks * May complain of cobweb sensation on face or sore breasts *
Deep established ulcers * Tonsils so swollen that pain causes person to grimace every time they swallow * Tonsillitis with suppuration that will not heal * Pricking sensation in throat like a pin stuck there * Pain causes cough * Worse left side *
What's the correct dose?
You should take one dose (one pill) in the 200c potency if you have it to hand, and then wait (unless you are a sensitive person - ie. a tendency to allergies - in which case you should use 30c potency only). Repeat after 20 minutes if necessary. If you only have 30c potency then you can give more ie. three or four times, 20 minutes apart each time. If the patient does not feel any relief, try the next remedy on the list that appears to fit best to the patient's symptoms.
PS. Put the remedy under the tongue and let it dissolve in the mouth. If possible avoid eating and drinking for 10 minutes before and after taking the remedy, and avoid touching it with your hands - try tipping it into your mouth from the bottle lid, or with a clean spoon.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.