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Got a sore throat? Allergies might be to blame. Though many sore throats can be caused by viruses, such as the common cold or flu, or bacteria such as strep throat, allergies are an over-overlooked culprit. If you suspect your sore throat might be caused by allergies, here’s what you need to know about treating the problem and alleviating the symptoms.
How Can Sore Throat Be Caused by Allergies?
Allergies can take different forms for each person. One person might suffer from severely itchy and watery eyes, while another might have a stopped-up nose. Still others might suffer from a sore throat. But how does this happen?
Remember that your nose and throat produce a great deal of mucus every day – usually anywhere between one and two quarts of it! It keeps your respiratory tract healthy by keeping it moist and so helping prevent infections, which you rarely notice it. But when your body comes into contact with something that causes an allergic reaction, then a chemical called histamine is released. This increases mucus production, which can lead to a runny nose. When that mucus runs down your throat, it can lead to itching, coughing or sore throat.
Sometimes, sore throat allergies are even more direct. Particles of pollen or other allergens might go right into the nose and throat, and those can enter the respiratory system, leading to an even worse sore throat.
Is Your Sore Throat Caused by Cold or Allergies?
But, how to tell whether your sore throat is caused by allergies or just cold? The best way is to pay attention to the duration. How long does it last? A common cold will get pretty bad for a day or so, but they will often go away within a few days – at the most, the common cold lasts for ten days. The flu lasts for about the same period of time, and is accompanied by muscle aches and fatigue among other symptoms. But allergies are persistent. They can go on for weeks or even months. Seasonal allergies often occur during the spring, and tend to come around every year, no matter what you do to try to avoid them.
You can also tell the difference between a cold and allergies by the mucus. Colds cause mucus that is yellowish, while allergies lead to a thin and clear mucus discharge. You might also notice a difference in symptoms: the cold tends to cause coughing and congestion, while allergies can include itchy eyes and a sore throat.
How to Treat the Sore Throat Caused by Allergies
Fortunately, sore throat allergies can be treated very well, through either over-the-counter remedies or home-based cures. But always remember that the best way to avoid sore throat allergies is to prevent allergies altogether.
1. Prevent Allergies
Start by avoiding the allergens if you can. For instance, if you wind up with sore throat allergies after being around a smoker, make sure to avoid cigarette smoke. Not sure what you are allergic to? You can see your doctor to get an allergen test and figure out what makes your body react. Once you know what you are allergic to, you might be able to get a regimen of shots that will keep you from having symptoms from those irritants.
2. Take Medications
Sometimes you can’t prevent allergies. In that case, turn to the great over-the-counter medications that are designed to treat all the symptoms, including sore throat. Allergies are often relieved by antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Claritin, as well as some others that treat only very specific symptoms, like Benadryl.
3. Try Home Remedies
Though these home remedies below might not get rid of the problem, they do decrease the symptoms and make allergies more tolerable.
- Water. Simply drink a boatload of water – as much as you can stand. The more water you drink, the healthier your body will be, and the thinner the mucus will become. The water will also help soothe your sore throat, especially if you spike it with a little lemon.
- Warm liquid. Hot teas and soups are notorious for making you feel better, whether you have a cold or allergies. But for a sore throat, a soothing tea is especially helpful. Look for elderberry tea, which is a natural antihistamine.
- Gargling. When you have a sore throat, turn to warm salt water. Stir one teaspoon of regular table salt into eight ounces of water and then gargle with this solution to ease your sore throat. You can do this as often as you like.
- Neti pots. These little pots are a great idea for those suffering from sore throat allergies. They work by pouring a salt-water solution into your nasal cavity and flushing it out, which leads to less mucus. Less mucus means that you have a much more comfortable throat. Here’s a video telling you how to use a Neti Pots: