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When you were a child and had a sore throat, a throat lozenge just seemed to erase the pain. Now, however, your sore, scratchy throat can persist for days or weeks, no matter how you treat it.
When your sore throat is irritated as a result of an allergic reaction to airborne particles, such as pollen, treatment becomes a little more complicated.
Addressing the precise cause of your allergies can help you alleviate that sore throat once and for all.
Postnasal drip is the main culprit in cases of allergy-induced sore throat.
It’s the result of exposure to an allergen and occurs when congestion in the nose and sinuses drains down to the throat. This causes tickling or scratchy pain.
The drainage also can cause:
- excessive swallowing
- throat irritation and clearing
- difficulty speaking
Many allergies, such as pollen allergies, are seasonal.
If you experience symptoms year-round, your symptoms will worsen during seasons where the amount of airborne irritants is high. These irritants can include pollinating flowers and trees during springtime.
Other common allergens and irritants include:
- dust mites
- mold and mildew
- pet dander, especially that of cats and dogs
- cigarette smoke
Allergy symptoms generally include:
- itchy eyes and nose
- runny nose
If you have a sore throat with fever and body aches, it’s likely the result of a viral infection, such as the cold or flu.
Scratchiness is another way to determine if you have an allergy-induced sore throat.
In addition to the “raw” feeling that results from postnasal drainage, particles that directly enter the respiratory system can cause an itchy or scratchy feeling.
Preventing allergies is essential in alleviating a sore throat and other related symptoms. The first step is to limit your exposure to the allergens as much as possible.
Avoid known irritants, such as cigarette smoke and pet dander, when you can. Keep your windows closed or wear a surgical mask outside to protect yourself from airborne allergens during the worst seasons of the year.
You can’t always avoid allergens, though. This is when medications and allergy shots can help.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec), may be taken daily during the worst times of the year to alleviate allergy symptoms.
These medications work by preventing the body from mounting a histamine-based response to the allergens that attack your system.
The histamine response is what causes your allergy symptoms in the first place, and it’s triggered when you have an allergic reaction.
Your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength medication if your allergies are severe or consistent.
They also may recommend decongestants or nasal sprays to help prevent postnasal drip that can lead to sore throats.
An allergist can perform tests, such as skin prick tests and blood tests, that will tell you exactly what you’re allergic to.
Not only can this help you avoid those allergens, but it can also help determine whether you’re a candidate for immunotherapy, including allergy shots.
An allergy shot regimen consists of small doses of the allergen that will, over time, reduce your body’s reaction to it. This long-term treatment can help you sustain a mostly symptom-free life.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, most people need one to two build-up shots per week over the course of 6 months. Monthly maintenance shots are typically required for 3 to 5 years.
Natural remedies are popular ways to soothe sore throat symptoms. While they won’t cure the postnasal drip causing the sore and scratchy feeling, they can provide temporary relief.
Water is always recommended for any congestion problems. Dryness worsens the problem. Not only does drinking plenty of fluids help keep the throat moist, but it also helps thin the mucus.
Warm liquids, such as soups and hot teas, can provide comfort to a sore throat. Gargling with warm salt water can also help soothe it.
Stay away from caffeinated beverages when you have a sore throat, though. Caffeine can be an irritant.
Using a neti pot entails pouring a specially formulated salt and water solution directly into your nasal cavity.
This remedy flushes out your sinuses and can help relieve congestion. Just be aware that overuse can cause further problems.
An allergy-induced sore throat may go away once you’re no longer exposed to allergens. Still, this is easier said than done.
If your symptoms are preventing you from leading a comfortable life, an allergist may be able to help you find relief. If left uncontrolled, allergy symptoms can eventually lead to other complications, including sinusitis.