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What is Throat Support?

While we may think of the throat and tonsils as merely a simple structure consisting of two small organs that are very sensitive to irritants and germs, the throat is also the passage through which we take in air, either directly or through the nose. The air that we breathe contains many pollutants that can irritate the immune system.

Here are some of the basic questions and solutions asked by many people:

Can viruses cause throat infections?
Yes. In fact, viruses are the most common cause of throat infections in children and in adults. Many types of viruses are known to cause throat infection, and their symptoms may be difficult to distinguish them from a bacterial infection. Throat infections caused by viruses usually occur in non-winter months.

For viral infections, generally no antibiotic is needed (unless the infection becomes complicated by a subsequent bacterial infection). Most infections can be expected to run a four-to-six day course. During this period, the child or other infected individuals can be treated with lots of fluids, rest, and "feel better" medicines that reduce pain and/or fever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, Liquiprin, etc.) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc.). It is important to note that these measures do not treat the viral infection and only provide some relief of the symptoms.

Can bacteria cause throat infection?
Bacterial causes of throat infections (tonsillopharyngitis) can require further attention from parents and pediatricians. Streptococcus, or strep, is the most frequently found bacterial cause of sore throat. Streptococcus bacteria are usually grouped together in the configuration of a chain if seen under the microscope, as shown in the picture below.

The commonly known strep throat is due to only one member of the streptococcus family of bacteria. This certain streptococcus belongs to the Group A Streptococcus bacteria (GAS for short).

There are many other bacteria that may also cause throat infections. Group A Streptococcus is the most common cause in children and adolescents. Some of the other common ones are mycoplasma, neisseria, and strep bacteria other than group A.

Bacterial throat infections typically occur in the winter months.

What is strep throat?
While many people use the terms sore throat, tonsillitis, and strep throat interchangeably, there are significant clinical differences between these conditions. Understanding the differences can give patients a better idea of how and when to be concerned and when to seek advice from a physician.

Strep throat is only one of many possible causes of throat infection and sore throat. While strep throat is most common in children and adolescents, it can affect people of all ages.

What causes sore throat?
Sore Throat may have many causes. The most common causes of sore throat are infections of the throat and the surrounding structures. Any inflammation or infection of the pharynx, tonsils, esophagus (the food pipe), or larynx (the top opening part of the windpipe) may cause sore throat.

What are the tonsils and tonsillitis?
The tonsils are red, oval clumps of tissue located at the back and to the sides of the throat. This location allows the tonsils to intercept germs as they enter the body through the nose and throat. They contain infection-fighting cells and antibodies (infection-fighting proteins in the body) that stop the spread of the germs further into the body.

When the tonsils become red, sore, and swollen, this inflammation is called tonsillitis. This is not a specific term, as there are many causes of inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsillitis is a common cause of sore throat.

What are the pharynx and pharyngitis?
The pharynx is the area in the back of the throat shared by the oral cavity and the nasal cavity behind the palate. An infection or inflammation of the pharynx is called pharyngitis. The infectious causes are similar to those causing tonsillitis, which are mainly related to viruses and less commonly to bacterial infection.

Because it is difficult to always distinguish exactly between pharyngitis and tonsillitis, throat infections are commonly referred to as tonsillopharyngitis, which signifies an infection of the tonsils, or pharynx, or both.

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