Sore Throat and Coronavirus: What Do They Mean For You?
The coronavirus is a conundrum in more ways than one. In addition to rapidly escalating to the most notable pandemic of our era, it is a mystery to healthcare providers. While some experience coronavirus as hardly anything at all, others find themselves in ICUs struggling to breathe and fighting for their lives.
And, while sore throat and coronavirus do go hand in hand, it is so important to realize that a sore throat is also a symptom of multiple other conditions, from common cold (yes – they still exist, too) to seasonal allergies or snoring at night. If you experience a sore throat, do not panic. Instead, take good care of yourself, get plenty of liquids and pay attention to other signs and symptoms.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is so much misinformation floating around on the internet and social media channels, which makes it difficult to know what to believe. We highly recommend ignoring any and all information unless it comes from legitimate medical or health organization websites such as:
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- The World Health Organization (WHO)
- Reputable university websites such as Harvard.edu or Johns Hopkins.
As researchers at Harvard University write, “Just as the number of people and countries affected by this new virus has spread, so have conspiracy theories and unfounded claims about it. Social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, have seen a number of false and misleading posts…”
Do not fall victim to false information, and avoid being a part of the misinformation chain! Taking responsibility for where you get your information helps to protect you and the ones you love.
What is COVID-19? Its Signs and Symptoms
As we mentioned above, the current coronavirus pandemic is caused by a version of the virus (which is covered with crown-like spikes on its surface) is called COVID-19 and is a version of the SARS virus.
Without an actual test, COVID-19 is impossible to accurately diagnose because it replicates other versions of common colds and cases of flu. To complicate matters, the only way to be tested is to visit a local healthcare provider, which means potentially exposing yourself to the real coronavirus if all you have is a common cold.
This is why healthcare providers recommend staying at home and calling them via office lines or their 24-hour nurse line. By describing your symptoms and their severity, healthcare professionals can provide a tremendous amount of support while allowing you to stay safely at home. That way, only those in the greatest need occupy medical facility space, and the rest of us with potential coronavirus cases remain quarantined at home, preventing further spread of the virus.
If symptoms are severe enough, your healthcare provider will give you explicit instructions on how to safely travel to and enter their facility for testing and treatment.
First and Most Common Symptoms
Symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear within two to five days after exposure. In almost all but the most severe cases, the virus runs its course within 14 days.
The first and most common symptoms of coronavirus are:
- Sore throat
- Low-grade fever
As with any cold or flu, the symptoms vary from person to person, and they tend to get worse after the initial two to three day onset. Additional symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty smelling or tasting (a common side effect of viruses because they attack the cells that our noses and brains use to detect scent, which enhances our sense of taste)
- More elevated fever
- Diarrhea and/or stomach upset
Severe symptoms of COVID-19
Some of the most severe symptoms are most likely to result in hospital admission and testing. These are:
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish lips or face
- Inability to rouse from sleep or a resting state or mental confusion
Any of these symptoms should result in a phone call to a 24-hour nurse hotline or 9-1-1, when you will be given explicit instructions on how to proceed.
Soothing a Sore Throat – Coronavirus or Otherwise
The very good news is that the large majority of those who catch COVID-19 never experience severe symptoms. In fact, some never have any symptoms at all, or a sore throat may be the only coronavirus they experience.
Again, the best thing you can do for yourself if you experience any of the potential coronavirus symptoms (headache, sore throat, fever, fatigue, aches, etc.) is the same thing you would do for any other flu – hydrate, eat soft, nourishing foods, and get plenty of rest. Fortunately, sheltering-in-place mandates make it easier than ever to take good care of yourself.
Drink plenty of fluids – preferably water and herbal teas
Your sore throat is inflamed and the body produces mucous to drain viruses or bacteria out of your system. Mucous drainage from the nose, which travels and can linger in the throat, is also a cause of sore throats. Drinking fluids flushes those out of the throat and soft palate area, which minimizes irritation. Remaining hydrated also boosts your body’s natural immune boosting response.
If you have a sore throat, try:
- Sipping on room temperature or cool (rather than ice-cold) water to keep the throat moist and lubricated. Sometimes drinking ice water causes throat spasms, which can lead to coughing and further throat irritation.
- Warming or heating water and adding a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey, which is a known throat-soother
- Sip decaf teas or herbal teas that advertise throat-soothing properties
- Suck on ice chips or 100% juice ice popsicles if your throat is really sore. This helps your body absorb fluids through the mouth while minimizing painful swallowing
DO NOT: Consume alcohol. Alcohol irritates inflamed throat tissues. Plus, as the CDC states on their Coronavirus Myth Busters page, “Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems…Drinking alcohol does not protect you from against COVID-19…” Plus, alcohol is dehydrating, which is counterproductive when focusing on hydration.
Try to avoid…
You may also want to avoid sports drinks and fruit juice. While they may seem like a good idea, they are loaded with sugar and the acid content in most fruit juices often irritate inflamed throats. Coffee is also high in acid and the caffeine may prevent you from getting the rest you need.
Get lots of rest
Your body does its best healing when you are at rest. Sleeping and lying low allows your body to divert as much energy as possible towards fighting off the invader, whether that be a bacterial infection, a virus, or COVID-19.
In fact, multiple studies have proven that sleep really is the best medicine against the flu. A study conducted by the University of Washington found that when we have a flu virus, our bodies produce an extra amounts of the protein AcPb. While we sleep, this protein interacts with immune system signaling chemical called interleukin-1. Together, they catalyze more sleep and expedited healing.
Eat nourishing foods
Typically a sore throat and flu include that aforementioned lack of smell and taste. Altogether, it can diminish your appetite. However, healthy and nourishing foods will help to boost your immune system can help you feel better at the same time.