Sore and irritated throat – a common problem at this time of year

17. August 2021.

15:56

The changing weather brought by the autumn months often results in a decline in the body’s immunity and susceptibility to respiratory infections. The most common problem that occurs in patients is an irritated and sore throat for which patients seek help in pharmacies. When counseling, it is necessary to follow the guidelines, but also to recognize other diseases and conditions in which sore throat may be just one of the symptoms.

Indications associated with sore throat are most often laryngitis (laryngitis), pharyngitis (acute pharyngitis) and tonsillopharyngitis (acute infection of the pharynx and / or tonsils). Each of these conditions is accompanied by a variety of symptoms such as discoloration of the voice, red and irritated throat, difficulty swallowing, a burning sensation when swallowing and fever.

It is the different symptoms that can be used by the pharmacist in discovering the cause and properly advising the patient.

Virus or bacteria as a cause of sore throat?

The most common causes of sore throat are viruses (adenoviruses, rhinoviruses and influenza virus), while in a small number of cases bacterial sore throat develops (the most common cause is beta hemolytic group A streptococcus).
Respiratory infections are responsible for every fifth visit to the doctor during the year, while in the winter months this number increases significantly (70% of visits to the doctor). A further worrying fact is that respiratory infections are the cause of 75% of global antibiotic consumption in developed countries. The role of pharmacists is crucial in streamlining the consumption of antibiotics, which are often prescribed at the insistence of patients. With proper counseling, the pharmacist influences the patient’s decision to go to the doctor, contributes to the rationalization of the costs of the health system and, most importantly, reduces the development of antibiotic resistance, which is increasingly occurring due to their abuse.

In order to identify patients with viral infections, four questions need to be asked (according to the ISKRA guidelines):
Does the patient have a body temperature above 38˚C? Is there exudate on the tonsils? Are the lymph nodes in the neck painful and swollen? Are the patient absent cough and catarrhal symptoms?

If most of the answers to these questions are negative, the pharmacist approaches the patient’s counseling and recommends symptomatic therapy.

Plants as an ally in the symptomatic treatment of sore throat

Preparations containing plant extracts, available in the form of syrups, lozenges and throat sprays, are of great help in counseling self-medication.

When advising patients on the use of syrup, it is important to determine the type and severity of the cough. Depending on the problem, the pharmacist will resort to primrose syrup if it is necessary to expel mucus, or to marshmallow syrup, plantain and Iceland moss if it is necessary to coat the mucous membrane and prevent dry irritating cough.

It is certainly advisable to advise patients and throat lozenges that the patient can take several times a day, and due to the convenience of use, good cooperation is achieved.

Herbal extracts that can be found in lozenges are most often sage extract whose active substances (essential oil, tannins and bitter substances) provide anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent action. Extracts of Iceland lichen, marshmallow, mullein will also coat the inflamed mucosa with their active ingredients, have an antibacterial effect, while mullein saponins will provide easier breakdown and expulsion of mucus.

Green propolis – the power of phenolic acids

Propolis-containing preparations have traditionally been used to treat sore throats.Green propolis is a product collected by bees from the Brazilian plant Baccharis dracunculifolia that grows in the Amazon region where there is no risk of contamination or pesticide treatment. The products are absolutely “clean”, without PAH and pollution.

Given the different geographical origins, there is a significant difference in chemical composition as well. Green propolis, unlike European, has more phenolic acids, especially artepilin C, which have stronger antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antifungal properties and provide faster and more effective help with sore throats.

When solving a sore throat, it is certainly good to reach for combined preparations that, with their composition, enable the prevention of further development of the infection, treatment of the same, but also coat and heal the irritated mucous membrane.

In addition to advising patients on preparations that will alleviate their current symptoms and prevent further development of the disease, it is certainly important to draw their attention to the need for increased hydration, rest and avoidance of bad life habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.

autor: Ana Prkačin, mag. Pharm