Sore throat, medically known as pharyngitis, occurs when the tonsils in the pharynx acquire a viral or bacterial infection, creating inflammation and irritation. A sore throat often accompanies or precedes the common cold and flu. Some of the better-known culprits include the adenovirus, mononucleosis, the Epstein-Barr virus, and streptococcus. A sore throat can also be caused by prolonged straining of the vocal cords and throat muscles. Many singers, actors, and people who talk for long periods of time experience sore throats that aren’t related to infections. In some cases, a severe sore throat can cause loss of voice.
Chinese medicine treats sore throat with acupuncture for pain relief and herbal therapy to help the immune system combat infections and heal strained muscles. A sore throat is viewed as a pathogenic heat condition that needs to be cooled, and the pathogens must be expelled. Many noninfectious cases of sore throat that result from postnasal drip or acid reflux, both of which can be addressed with Chinese medicine. Acupuncture can clear heat, soothe the throat muscles and relieve swelling and inflammation, helping patients to quickly recover from the symptoms.