When you feel a sore throat coming on, it’s important to take action right away to help manage possible infections. Here’s a few tips on how to recognise a dry, tickly throat and its causes so you can treat at the first signs of a sore throat.

What is a dry and tickly sore throat?

A mild sore throat is associated with symptoms like a scratchy, tickly, itchy, or dry feeling. These feelings come from the delicate tissues in the back of your mouth and throat being irritated and becoming inflamed. You might describe how it feels by comparing your throat to other dry, tickly, scratchy things, such as a prickly cactus, dry desert or tickly feather.

This type of sore throat often signals the start of an infection such as a cold or the flu, and is also the kind typically associated with allergies, poor air quality, or changes in the weather or season. Luckily, sore throats don’t hang around for very long. While most sore throats will go away on their own in about three to seven days, it’s important to know that you don’t need to suffer through until the end – there are effective ways to manage sore throat pain.

Causes of a dry, tickly throat 

There are several factors that could be contributing to a mild sore throat. The first and most obvious is an infection – more on that below. Other contributing factors include:

  • Air pollution
  • Allergens (such as pollen)
  • Low humidity (think of air-conditioned rooms)
  • Cold temperatures
  • Shouting
  • Snoring
  • Injury or damage to the throat
  • Smoking

No matter what specific factor is contributing to your sore throat, the pain and discomfort all come down to inflammation. This may be inflammation in response to an infection or to any of the factors mentioned above.

But back to infections. The most common cause of a sore throat is an infection. These infections can be caused by either a virus or by bacteria. Again, the amount of inflammation caused by a throat infection can affect how much discomfort or even pain you feel in your throat.

Treatment at the first signs of a sore throat

Treatment that relieves symptoms is helpful for sore throats, so think about what is causing you the most difficulty and speak to a pharmacist or doctor about what you can do to find relief.

If your sore throat is painful, then look for products that contain ingredients such as anti-inflammatories or anaesthetics. An anti-inflammatory helps to reduce inflammation (a key cause of the pain in a sore throat), while an anaesthetic helps to numb the tissues in your throat, so you don’t feel the pain as much.

What else can help me feel better?

Besides products that contain active ingredients to help relieve your sore throat, there are several other things you can do at home. These include:

  • Changing the temperature of your food – cold or frozen foods may help numb your throat 
  • Drink plenty of fluids – it’s important to stay hydrated as your body recovers from a sore throat, try warming up fluids like soup or water with honey and lemon can make them easier to swallow, or cooling drinks down to help numb your throat
  • Choose softer foods – they may be easier to swallow than hard foods
  • Check your environment – is there something in the air that could be adding to your throat irritation, such as smoke or pollen?

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for the right sore throat medication

If you are unsure what products to turn to for your sore throat, you can always ask the advice of a pharmacist. They can help you find the right type of relief for your symptoms. 

If your sore throat appears to be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, then look for an antiseptic ingredient – for example Benzydamine HCI & Chlorhexidine Gluconate (DIFFLAM®-C) Anti-inflammatory Antiseptic Solution, which is effective at fighting against both bacteria and viruses.

However, if your sore throat seems to be more of an irritation, or if it’s feeling dry and tickly, consider a lozenge to provide a soothing sensation. Lozenges can also provide a demulcent effect – meaning they coat the throat with a soothing layer to help relieve irritation.

Remember – the best person to ask for advice is your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to help you select the right product with the right ingredients for your sore throat.

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