Let me guess the weather is changing, and so is your once melodious voice. Far from sounding like your usual confident self, you sound like a toad struggling to breathe. This is common, in fact most people I know, and probably most people even you know, are going through this even as you read this and I type it. Waking up with a sore throat is the worst, because you don’t feel like waking up at all.
Don’t you just feel like reaching down your throat, and itching and scratching it to your heart’s content? While we clearly can’t do that, because we risk choking ourselves, but even if we could do something like that it would bring us little or no relief. It is not really the pain that hurts us the most, but in fact the overall acute discomfort it causes us, since forget chewing, even swallowing your own spit sometimes becomes difficult.
The science behind a sore throat
What most of us don’t know is that when we have a sore throat, it essentially means that the delicate area at the back of our throat has swollen from the inside. This could be due to various reasons, such as exposure to excessive cold, or a viral or bacterial attack on the body. It is this resultant inflammation that ends up changing our voice, and causing pain and irritation in the whole throat. If left untreated this throat infection is bound to spread, first down the ENT (ear, nose, throat) tract and then across our whole body, commonly followed by fever and chills.
If you are to go to your local doctor at this point, the first thing he / she would ask you to do is to open your mouth, while he / she turns his / her flashlight on to peer down your throat. Absurd as it may seem to you, but what the doctor is looking for is swollen lymph nodes and a redness or rash at the back of your throat. These two by themselves tell the doctor what is causing your throat pain. While a sore throat appears as common as cold and cough, there is a danger that if taken lightly and not treated properly, then you could develop laryngitis, and worse lose your voice temporarily.
What not to do
Before taking steps to improve the condition of your throat, take steps to ensure the infection doesn’t spread and worsen. So avoid a head bath, unless you really have to. Take a general hot water bath, and tempted as you maybe to put hot water on your head, resist. Just avoid all exposure to cold things, in food, water and weather. Staying snug and warm will help your body fight the infection better, and keep you as comfortable as you can get under the circumstances. And yes gargling is a must. I know you probably hate it, I know I hate it, but it is the one sure shot thing which if done regularly, three times a day, can actually bring your voice back to normal faster.
In terms of food, say no to oily and deep fried snacks. So till your throat heals, give up that KFC fried chicken you have once a week, or even the french fries at McDonalds that you love so much. While fruits are generally good, since they provide the much needed nutrients to help build immunity, but certain fruits should be avoided while suffering from a sore throat. Top of this list is bananas, and then comes papayas and watermelons. In vegetables, avoid cucumber in any form, especially in salads. Pickles, curds, and any or all sour things or cold things should simply be shunned.
Remedies that work
However, what you should eat is lots of ginger, garlic, cloves and black pepper in as many forms as you can. I recommend you have these four condiments, in their raw form, at various points during the day to feel better at the end of the day. But if you think you won’t be able to stomach this brutal attack on your delicate taste buds, then try diluting their taste. This can be done in various ways, for example, you can choose to keep sipping ginger tea throughout the day, or have hot milk boiled with a little turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper for quick relief. A combination of cumin seeds with garlic juice and hot water is also good for your throat.
The best thing to do, however, is to simply squeeze out some fresh ginger and garlic juice, mix it in one teaspoon of honey and have it at least thrice a day, and within two days you can feel your voice getting back. Apart from these, people also swear by certain other remedies. These include gargling with fenugreek water and bishop’s weed soaked in lukewarm water.
Basil – the miracle healer
But the one big favor you can do to yourself, at this stage, is to buy yourself a potted basil plant. Basil leaves have been medically proven to have enough medicinal power to heal, if not completely cure the pain in your throat. And the best part about this herb is that it can be used raw, and even in drinks and food alike.
If you don’t mind feeling like a cow, then you can simply pluck some leaves of your basil plant and chew them well, so that the juice goes down your throat. You can boil these leaves with your daily tea or even drinking water, or else just mince some of these leaves and add it to anything and everything that you are eating. These leaves will help you build your immunity against the infection inside your body.
Apart from these cures and precautions, try to be, and stay as healthy and active as you can. And this is only possible if you eat a balanced nutritious diet, which boosts your immunity, thereby helping your body fight all those small infection floating in the air all year around. While you can never be completely immune from the millions of these bacteria and viruses around us, you can to a great extent prevent yourself from falling sick, every time any one of them happens to enter our body, by being active and healthy.