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Winter Throat Issues

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Winter Throat Issues

Jan 07, 2015

If you’re one of those people who get irritated, sore, dry, itching throats in the wintertime - don’t worry, it’s a common problem. From St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming, Dr. Martin Trott talks about the three general causes of throat issues, and tells you how to avoid them this winter season.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier, healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Interviewer: If your one of those people in the wintertime that gets a dry throat, maybe it's inching all the time, irritated throat. We're going to talk about that and maybe come up with some things you can do to feel better. Doctor Marty Trott, ear, nose and throat specialist at St. John's Medical Center in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Let's talk about that itchy, sore throat.

Dr. Trott: Boy, an awfully common problem. I'd say one of the most common reasons are upper respiratory tract infections or viral illnesses and they're always moving through the school system. So if you have school aged children you're going to be exposed to them. The other reason, are just being outside. Being dry, we're in a very, one of the advantages of living in this part of the country is that we're high and dry. But that's one of the disadvantages as well.

Interviewer: So how does that affect my throat? What's going on?

Dr. Trott: Well, your throat has mucus covering, just like your nose does and the job of the nose in general is to make sure that the air that gets to your lungs is warm and humidified. And if you're exercising with your mouth open, which you need to do if your exercising, then you're going to get a little bit drier.

Interviewer: Okay. Is it a good idea to try to breathe with your mouth closed as much as possible if you live in this environment?

Dr. Trott: I suppose it's possible. If it's possible. It's hard to exercise, it's hard to move enough air through your nose alone with your mouth closed. If you tried even getting on a treadmill if you close your mouth, you won't be able to do it for very long without breathing through your mouth.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Trott: So it's just one of the necessary evils.

Interviewer: Gotcha. What are some things that I can do to maybe find some relief then?

Dr. Trott: Humidification is key, particularly in the home and it's a trade off, because the more we humidify our homes the potentially more we can get allergens in the home. But I would tell people that if they're very dry every morning that it's a good idea at least in the bedroom to get a humidifier in the bedroom and run the humidifier all the time with the bedroom door closed. That would keep the relative humidity at least in that area up.

Interviewer: Okay. Any other thoughts on throat health in high, dry climates?

Dr. Trott: Well in general the other big issue that's coming to the fore, is potential for re-flux. So, heartburn or re flux symptoms that manifest themselves only with a sore or irritated throat. So I tell patients that they have a sore or irritated throat, if it's new it's something that hasn't been there before, it's going on for more than two and three weeks, you should see your family doctor, your provider about that.

Interviewer: So is it essentially three different causes of the sore throat or are there more than that? Illness, re flux, dry air.

Dr. Trott: I think that's a good characterization, we can always figure out more aciduric things, but I think those are the common.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is The Scope. University of Utah health sciences radio.