Friday, 24 August 2018

Sore throats are very common

and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better by themselves within a week.

How to treat a sore throat yourself
To help soothe a sore throat and shorten how long it lasts you can:

gargle with warm salty water (children shouldn't try this)
drink plenty of water – but avoid hot drinks
eat cool or soft foods
avoid smoking or smoky places
suck ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets – but don't give young children anything small and hard to suck because of the risk of choking
rest
How to gargle with salt water
How to treat a sore throat
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Media last reviewed: 01/06/2017

Media review due: 01/06/2020

A pharmacist can help with sore throats
To help relieve the pain and discomfort of a sore throat you can:

use paracetamol or ibuprofen
use medicated lozenges or anaesthetic sprays (although there's little proof they help)
You can buy them from a supermarket or from a pharmacist without a prescription.

Find a pharmacy

See a GP if:
your sore throat doesn't improve after a week
you often get sore throats
you're worried about your sore throat
you have a sore throat and a very high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of diabetes or chemotherapy
A severe or long-lasting sore throat could be something like strep throat (a bacterial throat infection).

Antibiotics
GPs don't normally prescribe antibiotics for sore throats because they won't usually relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

They'll only be prescribed if your GP thinks you could have a bacterial infection.

Call 999 if:
you have difficulty swallowing or breathing
you're drooling
you're making a high-pitched sound as you breathe (called stridor)
your symptoms are severe and getting worse quickly
These symptoms can make breathing more difficult.

Causes and symptoms of sore throats
Sore throats are usually caused by viruses (like cold or flu) or from smoking. Very occasionally they can be caused by bacteria.

Symptoms include:

painful throat, especially when swallowingSpina bifida is when a baby's spine and spinal cord don't develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect. The neural tube is the structure that eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord.

The neural tube starts to form in early pregnancy and closes about four weeks after conception.

In spina bifida, part of the neural tube doesn't develop or close properly, leading to defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine (vertebrae).

It's not known what causes spina bifida, but a lack of folic acid before and in the early stages of pregnancy is a significant risk factor.

Types of spina bifida
There are several different types of spina bifida, including:

myelomeningocele – is the most severe type of spina bifida; the baby's spinal canal remains open along several vertebrae in the back, allowing the spinal cord and protective membranes around it to push out and form a sac in the baby's back
meningocele – is another serious type of spina bifida where the protective membranes around the spinal cord (meninges) push out through the spine; the spinal cord usually develops normally so surgery can often be used to remove the membranes without damaging the nerves
spina bifida occulta – is the most common and mildest type of spina bifida; one or more vertebrae don't form properly but the gap in the spine is very small; spina bifida occulta doesn't usually cause any problems and most people are unaware that they have it
These pages focus on myelomeningocele, the most severe type of spina bifida and this is the type referred to whenever the term spina bifida is used.

Shine is a charity that provides help and support for people affected by spina bifida. Shine's website has more information about the other types of spina bifida.

Symptoms of spina bifida
In most cases of spina bifida, surgery can be used to close the opening in the spine. However, the nervous system will usually already have been damaged, which can lead to problems such as:

weakness or total paralysis of the legs
bowel incontinence and urinary incontinence
loss of skin sensation in the legs and around the bottom – the child is unable to feel hot or cold, which can lead to accidental injury
Many babies will have or develop hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain), which can further damage the brain.

Most people with spina bifida have normal intelligence, but some have learning difficulties.

Read more about the symptoms of spina bifida.

Causes of spina bifida
The cause of spina bifida is unknown, but a number of factors can increase the risk of a baby developing the condition, including:

low folic acid intake during pregnancy
having a family history of spina bifida
medication – taking certain medications during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of having a baby with spina bifida
Read more about the causes of spina bifida.

Diagnosing spina bifida
Most cases of spina bifida are detected during the mid-pregnancy anomaly scan, which is offered to all pregnant women between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.

If tests confirm that your baby has spina bifida, the implications will be discussed with you. This will include a discussion about the possible problems associated with the condition, the treatment and support your child may need if you decide to continue with the pregnancy, and what your options are regarding ending the pregnancy, if that is your choice.

Tests after birth
Once the baby is born, a number of tests may be carried out to assess the severity of the condition and help decide which treatments are appropriate.

Tests may include:

monitoring your child's head growth and carrying out a brain scan, using an ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI scan, to check for hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain)
ultrasound scans of the bladder and kidneys to check whether your baby stores urine normally
an assessment of your baby's movements to check for paralysis
In most cases, surgery to repair the spine will be recommended soon after your baby is born.

Treating spina bifida
Treatments for the symptoms or conditions associated with spina bifida include:

surgery soon after birth to close the opening in the spine and treat hydrocephalus
therapies to help make day-to-day life easier and improve independence, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy
assistive devices and mobility equipment, such as a wheelchair, or walking aids
treatments for bowel and urinary problems
With the right treatment and support, many children with spina bifida survive well into adulthood. It can be a challenging condition to live with, but many adults with spina bifida are able to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

Read more about treating spina bifida.

Preventing spina bifida with folic acid
The best way to prevent spina bifida is to take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy.

Folic acid recommendations
You should take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet every day while you're trying to get pregnant and until you're 12 weeks pregnant.

If you didn't take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out you're pregnant.

Folic acid tablets are available from pharmacies and supermarkets, or your GP may be able to prescribe them for you.

You should also try to eat foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as broccoli, spinach and chickpeas.

Read more about folic acid, including folic acid supplements and foods containing folate.

Recommendations for women at higher risk of spina bifida
Women thought to be at higher risk of having a child with spina bifida need to be prescribed a higher (5 milligram) dose of folic acid by their GP.

Women at higher risk include those:

with a family history of neural tube defects
with a partner with a family history of neural tube defects
who've had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
with diabetes
Your GP can advise you further about this.

If you're taking medication to treat epilepsy, you should consult your GP for advice. You may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid.

Help and support
If you have a child with spina bifida, or if you've been diagnosed with the condition yourself, you may find it helpful to speak to other people affected by spina bifida.

Shine, the spina bifida and hydrocephalus charity, can provide you with details about local support groups and organisations.

You can find and contact your regional Shine team or read about support for carers on the Shine website.

National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service
If you or your child has spina bifida, your clinical team will pass information about you/your child on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).

The NCARDRS helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.
dry scratchy throat
redness in the back of the mouth
bad breath
mild cough
swollen neck glands
The symptoms are similar for children, but children can also get a temperature and appear less active.

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