Busting the sore throat myths

soothing a sore throat

This time of year is sometimes hard work isn’t it? Cold, damp weather, dark mornings and ALL the germs. We seem to have had a cold in our house for weeks now, and there have been a few sore throats too. Luckily, we have our trusty Jakemans remedies to hand to help soothe the sore throats and ease congestion. We always treat common colds and sniffles at home where possible, as I know how hard pushed GP’s are, especially in the winter.  New research released recently has uncovered how we are turning to our doctors for harder solutions to treat a sore throat, when over-the-counter remedies could provide the answer.

This revealing research by leading menthol confectionery brand, Jakemans, highlights that 1 in 3 people visit their GP when suffering with a sore throat. 35% expect to leave the surgery with a prescription for antibiotics, despite concerns highlighted by England’s Chief Medical Officer regarding antibiotic resistanceDespite antibiotics being unlikely to improve a sore throat and the NHS recommendation against antibiotics in most cases, almost a quarter of people believe them to be effective in the treatment of sore throats. Likewise, one in six (15%) believe antibiotics relieve most sore throats. This is in fact false as the majority of sore throats are caused by a virus and therefore will be untouched, as antibiotics address only bacterial infection.

A lot of this could be down to a lack of information about how best to treat a sore throat. Cough sweets, pain relief, honey and lemon drinks and marshmallows (yes, really) are all great options for treating and soothing a sore throat at home, without the need to see a healthcare professional.  Jakemans have been creating marvellous menthol confectionery since 1907. 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 let’s bust those sore throat myths with Marvin Munzu, Jakemans Health Care Professional – do you know which of these are fact and which are a myth?

  1. Antibiotics relieve most sore throats (MYTH)

Majority of sore throats are caused by viruses and antibiotics are ineffective.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Smoking irritates sore throats (FACT)

Most chemicals in cigarettes can cause or irritate sore throats by thickening mucus and irritating the airways.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. Marshmallows 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


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