Drugs against sore throat: how to best use them

Medications against sore throats must also be used correctly to take advantage of them without taking risks.

In the vast majority of cases, the common sore throat can be easily managed with locally acting nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), generally available in the form of tablets to be dissolved slowly in the mouth or oral sprays. These preparations are safe, effective, easy to use and always available in any pharmacy when needed. But they are still drugs and, as such, require compliance with certain rules of use to obtain the desired benefits avoiding inconveniences.

Locally acting drugs: when, how and why

In case of sore throat the reference preparations are the local ones, in particular tablets to be dissolved in the mouth or spray. Among these, tablets based on flurbiprofen, ketoprofen or naproxen have proven particularly effective against all the main symptoms of sore throat, namely burning, pain and swelling of the mucous membranes, difficulty swallowing and discomfort in speaking.

The relief they can determine is rapid and more lasting than antiseptics (another category of locally acting products that can be taken against sore throat), starting to manifest itself in less than a quarter of an hour and persisting for the following 6 hours. To obtain this effect it is important to let the tablet dissolve slowly in the mouth, without chewing it, to allow the active ingredient to exert the maximum action expected for the dosage taken. For the same reason, once the tablet is completely dissolved, you should avoid drinking or eating for at least half an hour.

The second NSAID must be taken at least 3 hours apart

Although generally pleasant in taste and inviting in appearance, it should be remembered that all tablets against sore throat are drugs and not candy. Therefore, you should not take 2 or 3 at a time, nor at close range, but it is good to always respect the dosages indicated on the package insert inserted in the packages. For flurbiprofen-based tablets, for example, the expected dosage is only one tablet of 8.75 mg every 3-6 hours, depending on the extent of the symptoms present, without ever exceeding 8 units over 24 hours. For sprays the recommended frequency of use may be even lower, so it is always better to check the package insert before starting treatment.

Another important precaution is to limit the intake of several different drugs at the same time. So, for example, if in addition to sore throat there is also fever, the most correct attitude is to establish what is the main manifestation on which to focus the treatment.

If the sore throat is very intense and the temperature has increased by only a few tenths of a degree, the use of tablets or sprays based on flurbiprofen, ketoprofen or naproxen is indicated; Conversely, if the fever is high and the sore throat mild, it is more reasonable to take a systemic anti-inflammatory/antipyretic, such as tablets or effervescent granules based on ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid or paracetamol.

In the most unfortunate cases in which both sore throat and fever are important and require pharmacological treatment, it should be remembered to allow some time to elapse between taking the necessary drugs: for example, at least 4 hours must pass between a tablet based on flurbiprofen, ketoprofen or naproxen and a dose of systemic anti-inflammatory/antipyretic.

Whatever type of sore throat it is, however, the spontaneous use of antibiotics must always be avoided, since they are almost never necessary (even in the few cases in which the disorder is caused by a bacterial infection) and are often associated with well-known gastrointestinal discomfort, reduction of immune defenses and risk of promoting the development of antibiotic resistance. If they are needed, after 3-4 days of non-decisive anti-inflammatory therapy, the doctor will prescribe them.

A non-secondary aspect to consider when choosing the appropriate remedy concerns age. The aforementioned sprays and tablets, in fact, can be taken by adults and children over 12 years, but not by children, while acetylsalicylic acid is indicated from 16 years and should never be given before this age. On the contrary, against fever and colds of children it is allowed to use ibuprofen or paracetamol (the latter characterized, however, by a very modest anti-inflammatory effect) and, starting from 6 years, tablets based on antiseptics, for a local treatment of sore throat.

In all cases, it should be remembered that the dosages of drugs to be administered to children are different from those indicated for adults and should be calculated based on weight, as well as on age: all information normally reported on the package insert, to be verified with the help of the doctor or pharmacist in case of uncertainties about it.

When you need the doctor’s opinion

Sore throat can be very annoying, but in most cases it can be managed independently, without fear or risk. The doctor’s intervention becomes necessary when the burning, pain and swelling in the pharynx are associated with significant breathing difficulties, are so intense as to make it difficult to swallow or fall asleep or do not improve after 2-3 days of local anti-inflammatory therapy and compliance with practical measures such as drinking often, avoiding sudden changes in temperature and air strokes, Stay in comfortable and well-humidified rooms.

Other types of sore throat that should be brought to the attention of the doctor are those associated with high fever not effectively attenuated by the antipyretic or with the presence of whitish plaques on the bottom of the oral cavity (indicative of a possible bacterial infection), as well as acute ones affecting very young children and chronic or recurrent ones that smokers may suffer, elderly people (especially if suffering from chronic respiratory or cardiovascular diseases or diabetes) or those with gastroesophageal reflux disease not controlled by antacid therapy. In all these cases, in fact, treatment with NSAIDs may not be appropriate and it must be the doctor to establish how to proceed.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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