Have you scraped your tongue lately? No? Never done it? Then you know why breath fresheners were invented. But rather than suck on a mint, why not rinse your mouth more often?
That’s because in addition to eradicating bad breath germs from your mouth, mouthwash can also prevent sore throats and treat them, something which your average breath mint and tongue scraper is hard put to do.
You see, the common cause of sore throats is not ‘heatiness’ but rather, infection – streptococcus for example is a bacteria that infects the pharynx, larynx and tonsils.
But it isn’t just strep that does it, viruses and bacteria of many varieties all can infect these soft tissues in the back of your mouth and your airway – which include the viruses and bacteria that cause bad breath and come with coughs and running noses – colds.
So by rinsing your mouth more often with mouthwash, you’re doing your breath, your throat, and your friends huge favours.
But most people don’t do that. In fact, sore throat is one of the most common reasons why people go to see their general practionioners. And foolishly, when they visit the doctor, they want the sore throat to be gone yesterday.
But that’s not how medicine works.
Gatekeepers go both ways
The entire airway from your nose to your lungs consists of barricades to prevent bacteria, viruses or even pollen and pet dander from entering your body.
But these same barricades – which include nostril hair, mucus and more – also keep these microorganisms and particles trapped inside your body, where they are finally accumulated by the mucus that lines your oesophagus and lungs and expelled by way of coughing.
But over time, as long as enough bacteria don’t get expelled or neutralised by your body’s immune system, a critical mass can build up for months. Infection becomes more and more likely, as will happen when your body’s immunity is weakened by factors like stress or a poor diet. You’ll then eventually succumb to the infection, giving you a sore throat.
The symptoms are swelling or inflammation with pain, or difficulty in swallowing, or throat itchiness. Sometimes a fever arises as your body rallies its defenses to deal with this present threat to its well being.
Conditions that predispose you to sore throats include the following:
Do It Yourself
Here’s a collection of preventive home remedies that people have relied on to deal with sore throats.
The best way however to avoid a throat infection is simply to keep your immune system fortified. Get plenty of rest, reduce stress, exercise and eat healthy foods, avoiding fried foods, as they tend to promote the accumulation of bacteria in your throat.
You can also supplement your diet with vitamins (C,E and A are the most common for fighting infection), as well as other nutritional supplements. And of course, gargle with mouthwash!
But beware of mouthwashes that have alcohol in them. Some recent studies have found that not only do these mouthwashes not help improve bad breath (ethanol, the most common alcohol dries the mouth, worsening bad breath or gum disease), they are suspected to be linked to cancer-causing substances – carcinogens – in the lining of the mouth, increasing the risk of oral cancer.
While scientists gather more evidence, consider it prudent to choose brands of mouthwash that do not contain alcohol.
Health & fitness