At this time of year many of us are falling ill and with the NHS under increasing strain it can be difficult to decide whether we should call a doctor or not. New research has uncovered how we are turning to our doctors for harder solutions to treat a sore throat, when over–the–counter remedies can provide the answer. So should we still be calling for a doctor or is there a better solution?
I was surprised to read research by leading menthol confectionery brand, Jakemans highlighting that one in three (31%) people visit their GP when suffering with a sore throat. Over a third (35%) expect to leave the surgery with a prescription for antibiotics, despite concerns highlighted by England’s Chief Medical Officer and despite antibiotics being unlikely to improve a sore throat and the NHS recommendation against antibiotics in most cases.
Jakemans Brand Manager, Elizabeth Hughes-Gapper said: “It is revealing to learn that people are turning more to their GP than Pharmacist when they are suffering with a sore throat. Over-the-counter remedies are a long-standing favourite for soothing sore throat and have been for many years. Jakemans have been creating marvellous menthol confectionery since 1907. This is testament to the use of menthol confectionery as a tasty way to soothe sore throats. Each Jakemans sweet is made with only the finest ingredients, no artificial colours or flavours and is bursting with menthol – an ingredient that releases natural vapours to help keep airways clear and soothe the symptoms of a sore throat.”
So why do so many people call a doctor when they have a sore throat? It could be due to lack of information on how to treat a sore throat effectively. However often people are concerned with the pain and 35% of people worry that a sore throat could be a sign of something more severe. This dash to the doctor could be as a result of diagnosis by Dr Google as over a third (39%) of people turn to the internet in search of solutions for a sore throat, rather than seeking advice from their pharmacist.
If people have an underlying condition, are in at risk groups, are constantly suffering from sore throats or have a sore throat that has lasted for longer than two weeks then it is advised that they do seek medical advice.
However thankfully it is a fact that most sore throats can be soothed and treated successfully at home- read on for more facts (and myths) about sore throats from Jakemans Health Care Professional, Marvin Munzu:
Sore Throat Mythbusters
- Antibiotics relieve most sore throats (MYTH)
Majority of sore throats are caused by viruses and antibiotics are ineffective.
- Most sore throats are self-limiting and can be treated at home (FACT)
Most sore throats are viral and will normal heal themselves within 5 – 7 days without any prescribed medication.
- Dusting and cleaning your house can help relieve sore throats (FACT)
Certain sore throats are caused by allergies, for example dust, pollens or pets. Avoiding these triggers can improve a sore throat.
- Smoking irritates sore throats (FACT)
Most chemicals in cigarettes can cause or irritate sore throats by thickening mucus and irritating the airways.
- Ice creams are good for sore throats (MYTH)
Ice creams can soothe a sore throat by reducing inflammation, however, viruses and bacteria grow in a sugar environment and dairy products thicken mucous, hence ice creams can lead to more irritation and worsen a sore throat.
- Cold weather causes sore throats (MYTH)
Sore throats are caused by virus, although viruses thrive in cold weather, you have a higher chance of getting a sore throat inside a house with someone sneezing than outside in the cold.
- Alcohol eases sore throats (MYTH)
Although studies show that a moderate intake of alcohol particularly wine may boost the immune system, too much alcohol could lead to dehydration, which has the potential to worsen a sore throat. According to national Institutes of Health (NIH), immunity is reduced as a result of long term frequent alcohol consumption as well as short term, excessive drinking.
- Lozenges are the only medicine to treat sore throats (MYTH)
There are various forms of medications to treat sore throats including sprays and antiseptic solutions which can be bought in your local pharmacy. Sucking on menthol sweets and lozenges help to soothe a sore throat, easing discomfort and pain symptoms
- Gargling salt water eases a sore throat (FACT)
Salts absorb water and help reduce inflammation, therefore reducing pain and discomfort. It also washes away excess mucus.
- Sore throats and tonsillitis are the same thing (MYTH)
The terms sore throat and tonsillitis are usually used interchangeably but they don’t mean the same thing. A sore throat, alongside other symptoms, such as a high temperature, difficulty swallowing, hoarse or no voice and coughing, are symptomatic of tonsillitis.
- Exercising worsens sore throats (FACT & MYTH):
Studies by the American College of sports medicine show that low to moderate exercises such as walking swimming, stretching, cycling, yoga may be beneficial for sore throats by boosting the immune system. However, high intensity exercise may suppress the immune system and therefore should be avoided during sore throats.
- Marshmallow improve sore throats (FACT)
Studies show that marshmallow root contains a substance called mucilage which forms a gel with water which coats the throat and reduces irritation. Marshmallows help soothe irritated mucous membranes.
Viruses and bacteria are usually contained in saliva and can spread from one person to another through exchange of bodily fluids like kissing.
- School children are more likely to suffer sore throats than university students (FACT)
Children and teenagers are more likely to develop sore throats than university students because their immune systems against many viruses and bacteria are less developed compared to adults.
- You don’t need to see a doctor with a sore throat (FACT & MYTH)
Most sore throats are self-limiting and do not require a doctor. However, if your symptoms are more severe, do not heal within two to three weeks then consult your doctor.
Pharmacist and Jakemans Expert, Marvin Munzu explains: “The majority of sore throats are caused by viruses, meaning antibiotics will be an ineffective method of treatment. Most sore throats are self-limiting and can be soothed with menthol confectionery without the need for prescribed medication. Pharmacists are a wealth of untapped knowledge of how to address common health concerns. Unlike a doctor, the pharmacist is on hand to offer advice without the need for an appointment.”
How do you usually cope with a sore throat?
Jakemans is available from convenience stores, grocers and pharmacies nationwide, 100g bags retailing at 96p and stick packs retailing at 69p. For more information, visit www.jakemans.com