Tips to Manage Frequent Throat Infections

Q: Sir, towards the end of 2010, I seemed to have a throat infection which was diagnosed as a viral infection and I took medicine. The pain went down, but I kept coughing and the doctor said it was secondary bacterial infection. Well, I met more than a couple of doctors, but the cough (dry) continued. Finally one doctor asked me to take Kaypen for 10 days and I was fine. However I had the same symptoms in the next 10-11 months and it would go only after taking Kaypen again. In 2012 end, it occurred again and by this time Kaypen was not available in the market. So an alternative, Pentids, was needed for me to get rid of this sickness. 

Now, I had some similar symptoms, however it went down even (cefchamps for 5 days) without having to go for the penicillin. I still can feel some phlegm, no color, just looks like saliva, in my throat and on the sinus. But I don’t have any cough.

I am afraid, is the bacteria still inside me, dormant may be. This coming back to me every year, is worrying me. I am 40, male, very healthy, exercise regularly, BMI around 22-22.5. Would much appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.
-By Rajesh

Reply:

You may be having the same infection again and again, or it may a different infection each time.

Throat infections are very common in all age groups. A variety of bugs are attributed to causing it. It may be a viral or a bacterial cause. 

More commonly, viruses lead to throat infections. However, secondary bacterial infections are also not uncommon.

Factors Predisposing to Recurrent Throat Infections

  • Even though looking physically healthy, individuals with weak immune system have greater or more flared up infections. Are you taking enough anti oxidants in your diet on a daily basis? 
  • Smoking and alcohol make the throat prone to infections.
  • Very spicy food on a daily basis can irritate the throat making it prone to infections.
  • Throat abuse as in shouting, talking a lot or mouth breathing.
  • Inhaling dry air 

Throat Swab Followed by Culture for Treatment

Our throat has many different bacteria in it, which live there without making us ill. This is called the normal flora of our throat. These bacteria actually fight away the harmful ones from the throat, thus protecting us.  

Any disturbance in this flora is also a cause of severe throat infection.

This may occur due to:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Very spicy food
  • Taking antibiotics very frequently

When we take an antibiotic, all the bacteria of the region, including the good ones, are killed by it.

So, next time you get an infection, it is suggested you go for a Throat Swab first. Viral infections do not require antibiotics. Only if it is an bacterial infection, take the relevant antibiotic suggested on throat culture. 

Avoid all unnecessary medications.

How to Avoid Throat Infections?

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 15 seconds with any antibacterial soap. Do this after hand shakes, visits to rest rooms and other public utilities.
  • Avoid sharing drinks or utensils with others.    
  • Kids between the age groups of 5 and 15 years are the commonest carriers of throat infections. Avoid large groups of children. If you cannot avoid them, consider wearing mask on your nose and mouth in times of throat infection outbreaks.
  • Avoid crowds and close gatherings.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol and too much of spices.
  • Enhance your immune system. This can be done by taking anti oxidants. These immune boosters are plenty in fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. It is suggested you consume at least 6 bowls of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
  • Drink plenty of water and bland warm fluids like soups.
  • Make a habit of gargling your throat with lukewarm salt water before bedtime every day.
  • Dry air is bad for throat. Consider using a humidifier, available at pharmacies, to mistify the air you breath at bed time.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Curing Recurrent Throat Infections

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Thanks for your feedback.

      You are always welcome, if you have any medical problem in the future.

      Reply
  1. Arpit sharma

    Hello sir,
    I have irritation of throat, white patched tonsils and redness through out the throat since last two year. I accurately know that when I drunk very cold water direct from bottle I got it. ENT prescribed amoxi CV for that in very first. I had antibiotic course for 15 days and thereafter I used many time the antibiotic like amoxi azitromycine etc but not cured. ENT tell me that it’s chronic tonsillitis but due to its last very long and not responding to antibiotics I am worried about throat cancer as I used tobaccos. I don’t want to remove my tonsils as my physician told me that it’s very less effective. Please advice me thank you very much. I have no other symptoms but get weakness whenever my throat irritated me badly and I try all time to clear up my throat with some mucus in the throat.
    Thank you sir.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Likely to be infective. In cancers, you see a growth in the throat or blood may come out.

      Still, you may visit a doctor to get yourself examined.

      As you may read in the article above, tobacco and smoking do contribute to chronic infections. You need to leave this habit, otherwise, you’ll get the infection again and again.

      Also, make a habit of gargling your throat everyday in the morning.

      Reply
  2. Madison

    Hello,

    This may sound strange but I have a cold for 3 weeks now. Before the cold, I was on some antibiotics for viral pharyngitis (which I think my doc was mistaken, because that is not bacterial is it?) A month later I got this cold: It started as runny nose, sneezing, slight cough, slight temperature, green mucus, dry and inflamed throat. Every other symptom left within a week. However, for the next two weeks, I have been spitting up this green mucus. In fact after close attention to it, I noticed that it isn’t particularly coming up from throat but seem as though it may be running down from my sinuses then into my throat. As when I pull in through my nose, I can feel the mucus moving down my throat. Also, I don’t have any tonsils but where they used to be, there are a lot of white slimy stuff collecting but it isn’t a hard substance, it’s mucus like. I have been on cold ,cough and catarrh medications for over a week. What is it? And do I really have to go on another round of antibiotics? Cause my doctor had me on a pack of 28 antibiotic pills already. I am so depressed.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Do you have any fever or fatigue? If no, you don’t need to take antibiotics again.

      This does appear to be sinusitis. This means that your sinuses are inflamed and are constantly secreting mucoid exudates. This exudate comes out like sputum. It flows down the throat to irritate it and give cough.

      You need to clean your sinuses on a daily basis. Neti pots are available in the market and online. Inquire about them and consider buying one to clean your sinuses daily. Morning hours, after you get up, it is best for cleaning sinuses.

      Daily cleaning would be very helpful and you’ll not get infected again and again. Quit smoking, if you smoke.

      Read above about getting infections again and again.

      Reply
      1. Madison

        Hey I do not have fever or fatigue. I do not smoke either. I guess the rounds of antibiotics prob broke my immune system down. I will see what I can do. Will stock up on neti pots and veggies. Thank you so much.

        Reply
  3. Michael

    What is the cause of the smell that I perceive from my nose whenever I blow out mucus and also, I notice tonsils stones coming from a hole in the roof of my mouth when I dipped my finger in it. It smells really bad and people can perceive the bad smell from my nose even when I don’t talk. Am really fed up of all this and I just don’t know what to do. Even though I cleaned the whole place (roof of my mouth) to make sure I am free of the stones but I can still smell the bad odor anytime I blow my nose. It’s just as if a rat died in my nose when I blow them all time, yet nothing comes out except this cold, thick, clear, salty/acidic taste mucus. Sometimes it is always thick and other time, it may be watery but it’s always cold and has a salty taste. Any medication to clear all this stuff or any home remedy for it? Please help me.

    Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          You may get an X- ray face done to see the condition of your sinuses. Any haziness would imply that the sinuses are inflamed.

          Reply
  4. eddy

    Doctor about 2 months ago I woke up with phlegm stuck in the middle of my throat. It wouldn’t come out and it felt very uncomfortable. I had no other issues or symptoms. I didn’t have a fever, cough and it didn’t hurt to swallow. I did it eat something spicy and it kind of cleared it up and made the phlegm come out. I suffer from asthma and I do use my inhaler everyday and I’m also a mouth breather. I also suffer from allergies, but at that moment I really didn’t have an episode. I took some medicine and it help clear some of it but not all of it. I started to have pain in my throat and I decided to go to the doctor. I was given antibiotics because he said my throat was a little red. I took Ciproflaxin. Through this whole ordeal I didn’t have a fever, cough, or a sneeze. I could eat anything and it wouldn’t bother my throat. Coke and Pepsi did make it burn. After about a month I still had the same symptoms. I went back and the doctor looked worried because he said my throat is still red. He gave me Zithromax. I took the pills and same thing. But now my phlegm is stuck on one side of my throat and not the center. When I drink or eat my spit has phlegm. I don’t know if its draining or what. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning my mouth is dry and there is no phlegm, but as the day goes by it accumulates. Sometimes in the morning my voice is hoarse, and I have to clear my throat. My throat feels scratchy as well. I get ear pain and itch. I’m scared because its been 2 months now and when I look up my symptoms online all you see is that my immune system may be compromised because of cancer or HIV. I took an Oraquick test for HIV and it was negative. I know my stress I probably making things worst. I taken two round of antibiotics I wonder why I’m not getting better. I have aches in my throat. I can still eat and its only a minor pain.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Mucous production is an inflammatory response. Any group of cells in our body would produce copious mucous if they are inflamed/ irritated.

      Unlikely to be HIV where you have mild fever or enlarged glands in the neck of nearby areas.

      Your throat mucosa seems to be irritated. you need to soothe it.

      One reason may be allergies, as you are prone to it. Can you let us know what inhalers or medicines are you currently taking?

      Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Well, you need to take one more inhaler with Pro-air albuterol. The new one would be budecort or equivalent. Talk to your doctor about it.

          Antibiotics are not required. You’ve already had enough. This appears to be a constant irritation, that’s it.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            I went to the doctor today for a follow up. He said my throat was still red and that one of my tonsils was a little swollen. He said its probably the post nasal drip that keeps infecting my throat. He gave me another script for antibiotics. I’m going to take allergy pills and a expectorant. I will also use nasal spray and humidifier my room and gargle warm water with salt

          2. Buddy M.D. Post author

            Very likely. Your throat is alright. It is getting affecting secondarily to some other problem, likely to be allergy is your nose/ sinuses.

            You may use Fluticasone nasal spray.