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What Causes Throat Congestion?
Throat congestion is a very common problem that affects both children and adults. A congested throat usually occurs when you have a cold or the flu. Sputum may also be due to an infection in the back of throat caused by tonsillitis, pharyngytis, laryngitis, sinusitis, catarrh or strep throat. Throat congestion may also be associated with other viral infections such as measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, croup or mononucleosis.
Environmental factors such as smoking, breathing secondhand smoke, consuming large amounts of alcohol, inhaling polluted air or chemical fumes may also contribute to thick or excessive mucus or phlegm in the throat. The throat becomes congested when the mucus membranes that line the lungs are irritated and as result more mucus is released. Symptoms of pain, swelling, itchy or scratchy throat, dry cough, ear pain, runny nose, difficulty swallowing and a high fever may also be experienced.
Help for Throat Congestion
The best treatments to help get rid of mild symptoms of a congested, sore throat that have developed as a result of a cold or flu would be to drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice or tea with honey and gargle daily with warm salt water. Inhale steam from a basin of hot water with some eucalyptus oil added to it to drain and clear the mucus in the chest and throat.
Various over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or antiseptic gargles may also offer pain relief, however they may also be accompanied by certain side effects. For constant or more severe throat infections, prescription medication such as antibiotics may be required to suppress the infection.
More Information on Throat Congestion
How to prevent or soothe a congested throat
There are several things that you can do to prevent or reduce symptoms of a sore, congested throat and these include:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with warm water and soap
- Eat a healthy, balanced meal that includes all the food groups to prevent infection
- Gargle your throat with warm water and salt to soothe the throat
- Inhale steam from a tub of boiling water or hot shower to relieve congestion and loosen phlegm and mucus in the throat
- Drink vegetable and fruit juices and large amounts of water to re-hydrate the mucus membranes in the throat and keep it moist
- Increase your intake of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids to boost your immune system
- Do not share person items such as toothbrushes, towels or eating and drinking utensils with others
- Avoid close contact with someone who has a sore throat
- Avoid heavy polluted and smoke-filled areas
- Keep your throat covered in winter with a muffler or scarf
- Stop smoking as this increases your risk of developing tonsillitis