Ahh, the cool, crisp days of fall are upon us. While the weather may be cooling off here in Wilmington, NC, many people’s throats will be heating up, causing us to open up and say “ahh” in an altogether different manner. Children, teenagers, and adults all see an increase in sore throats, or pharyngitis, in the fall and winter. Thankfully, acupuncture can help:
The Problem: Pharyngitis is the medical term for a sore throat, or inflammation of the pharynx. Although there are a host of reasons why people experience pharyngitis, ranging from smoking to mouth breathing to allergies, the two most common causes of pharyngitis are viruses and bacteria. Once school resumes in the fall, it is a prime time for germs to spread. Increased exposure extends beyond the classroom as students flock to football games, dances and parties – often resulting in a rise of confirmed cases of the common cold, tonsillitis, strep throat and mononucleosis (mono).
Of course, many adults contract these ailments as well, but mononucleosis most often occurs in teenagers between the ages of 15–17. Since teens of this age are frequently dating, mono also goes by the nickname “the kissing disease” because it is transmitted through saliva and mucus. The reality, however, is that mono and the other contributors to pharyngitis are caused not only by transmitting saliva through kissing, but also by such innocuous methods as sharing a straw or simply being in close proximity when someone coughs or sneezes.
The most difficult aspect is that many people carry the virus and bacteria without presenting any symptoms, meaning carriers are unaware of the threat they pose and others don’t know they should avoid close contact with an unknowing carrier. The problem is compounded by the fact that mono has an extensive incubation period of 30-50 days. That means that symptoms you are just beginning to notice could be the result of sharing an elevator ride with someone who was a carrier over a month ago.
Because it is almost impossible to completely avoid these germs, you will most likely experience a sore throat at least once in your lifetime. And when that happens, you will want relief fast. What should you do?
The Solution: It should first be stated that anyone experiencing high fevers, problems swallowing, or symptoms persisting for several days should absolutely be seen by their physician. However, most people experiencing a stand-alone dry, scratchy and/or sore throat tend to purchase over-the-counter medications and tough it out. What they may not know is that acupuncture therapy, combined with plenty of rest and fluids, is a simple and speedy alternative.
According to an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a study of 74 patients in 2012 found that balance acupuncture significantly reduced sore throat pain within one minute of treatment. How can that happen? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes that energy flows through a number of pathways (meridians) to each organ of your body. When those pathways are disrupted, illness or pain ensues.
The key to restoring the pathways is to address corresponding meridian points; each point serves a different function. Thus, when someone experiences a sore throat, a licensed acupuncturist will typically combine multiple meridian points to remove heat (inflammation), increase moisture (resolving the dry, scratchy feeling), transport phlegm (silencing the often associated cough), and boost the overall immune system.
Even though people experience common symptoms, the cause of the pharyngitis can be different for each individual, as has already been discussed. An acupuncturist will therefore spend some time talking to you before the treatment to gain a better understanding of your personal situation in order to identify patterns which indicate which meridian points to address. Thus, two patients both being treated for a sore throat may receive different acupuncture treatments.
Conclusion: Avoid paranoia, but do take general precautions when out in public, especially this fall. If you find yourself suffering from sore throat/pharyngitis, contact your Acupuncture Associates in Wilmington, NC to schedule an appointment to alleviate your sore throat and give your immune system a boost.