I don’t know about you, but I find January a bit of a tough month. The Christmas fun and festivities have finished, the weather is usually pretty cold and miserable, and people seem to be fighting off lots of bugs and germs. We’ve all gone back to work fighting off colds and other lurgies.
January is not a fun month, and I am pretty sure I have spent a lot of time researching warm holidays in sunny places to cheer me up, and I am not alone in this.
So, whilst we all stagger back into routine, there are things we can do to deal with those coughs, colds, sore throats and runny noses that seem to be following us around.
There are a few myths and facts about coughs, colds, sore throats and those germs that might be getting us down right now from Marvin Munzu, Jakemans Health Care Professional… Some of them you may know, but some of them may be a surprise to you as some of them were also new to me.
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. (this is my favourite, I have decided to give up cleaning our house, thanks for that, January!!)
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.
Kissing can spread a sore throat (FACT)
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.
I find there are a few ways to deal with a cough, cold and sore throat, that help me survive the day. I am a busy working mum, I don’t have time to just stop and retreat to my sofa with a duvet, a book and a hot water bottle, when a nasty cold and sore throat strikes, so I have to take steps to not let it get me down.
Lots of fluids, water, hot tea with honey and lemon, tissues (soft ones) and some nasal spray, and throat lozenges Jakemans to help ease more sore throat and any cough that might be trying to emerge or take over. I generally carry a packet in my bag or my pocket, to have to hand, when I feel I need it. My work means I talk to a lot of people, all day, every day, so I don’t really have capacity to be croaky and struggling with a sore throat, and I like something soothing but with enough oomph to beat back the pain and discomfort. I tend to find a brand I like and then stick to them because I know they work.
Jakemans make throat lozenges that I can rely on, to get me through the day.
I prefer something sweet and soothing, so honey and lemon is my choice out of the seven different flavours they offer It keeps me going through the day, so my sore throat doesn’t get in the way of life. They come in a bag if you need to keep a stash at home, or in a handy stick pack that can fit into a bag or pocket.
Sore throats are a pain, but they don’t have to stop you in your tracks. Having some simple but effective tools up your sleeve to fight them off and help you keep going. Life is too busy to be stopped by sore throat. Jakemans in your pocket could help.