COVID sore throat - symptom of disease or indication of an inflamed thyroid gland?

An infection with the coronavirus can manifest itself symptomatically in different ways. However, the severe sore throat associated with COVID is one of the most common and well-known symptoms of the infection. By infecting the upper respiratory tract, the coronavirus breaks through the protective barrier of the pharyngeal mucosa and causes redness and irritation there. Particularly in the case of the COVID’s omicron variant, symptoms of sore throat or discomfort in the pharynx is usually to be expected in the case of a symptomatic course. In addition, studies are increasingly reporting thyroid disorders because of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. If the sore throat persists after overcoming a COVID infection, the cause should be identified urgently, as it may be an inflammation of the thyroid gland.

COVID sore throat, what remedy do we have? Special COVID mouth rinses disinfect the mucous membrane and are used against viruses in the mouth and throat. 

COVID: Sore throat and other symptoms indicate infection

In many cases, the COVID infection begins acutely with flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, cough, fever or headache, and aching limbs. Various studies confirm that the COVID symptoms of sore throat are among the most common ones. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports that COVID’s omicron presents symptoms of sore throats in 39 percent of all known and symptomatic cases. Scientists at Beijing University also report a significantly shorter incubation period, i.e., the time between infection and the outbreak of the disease and the appearance of the first symptoms.

Severe sore throat: COVID, flu or cold?

But is angina always a COVID sore throat, or can it also be caused by a simple flu or cold?

Distinguishing between the signs of the diseases is not easy because of their similarities. A respiratory infection includes typical symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, increased temperature or fever, shortness of breath or headache, and pain in the limbs. Only the possible loss of the sense of smell and taste could be a definite indication of infection with the coronavirus and enable a clear classification of the specific COVID sore throat.  

Furthermore, there are small differences in the incubation period: the symptoms of influenza appear on average two to three days after infection, whereas an infection with the coronavirus only becomes symptomatic after five to six days. But even here, caution is advised, as the incubation period can vary depending on the COVID variant. It should be noted, however, that COVID-19 spreads more easily than influenza and usually causes a more severe course of disease. Rapid tests or PCR tests provide clarity about the existing infection and enable targeted treatment and isolation measures.  

What causes COVID sore throat?

When coronaviruses enter the human body through the respiratory tract, the mucous membranes of the throat react with irritation and COVID symptoms such as sore throat and swollen lymph nodes appear. Patients find it painful to swallow, talk, and breathe. In addition, small inflammations in the throat and pimples on the mucous membrane can develop because of COVID sore throat.

Among the proven COVID sore throat remedies are special anti-viral (also effective against coronaviruses) mouthwashes. Gargling cleanses and decontaminates the oral cavity and throat. 

Sore throat after the COVID vaccine

The severe sore throat caused by COVID also affects patients who have been vaccinated or boostered. You might be asking yourself: “But what does the COVID sore throat feel like in this case?” The proliferation of the invaded coronaviruses in the throat makes itself felt by a tingling in the throat. However, the effect of the vaccine or booster is already evident in this phase: the immune system fights the invading coronaviruses already during the multiplication phase. Consequently, fewer viruses enter the human body, which facilitates the immune system's further defense. Through the previously administered vaccine, the immune system has learned to develop the right antibodies to fight the coronavirus. This way, a severe course of the disease can be prevented and a recovery of the body as well as of the sore throat after COVID can be brought about as quickly as possible.

Sore throat after COVID: indication of thyroiditis?

An Italian case study shows that infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus can promote thyroiditis. This observation has been made since the beginning of the pandemic, but now the results of the Italian study confirm it. Thyroiditis de Quervain (SAT) occurs after prolonged sore throat and COVID infection. The symptoms can last from three to six weeks. If left untreated, there is a risk of it becoming chronic.

What are the symptoms of SAT?

Many patients experience such an inflammation and the accompanying sore throat after a COVID infection as quite painful. Even light touching of the thyroid region is perceived as unpleasant. In addition to the constant sore throat after COVID infection, the typical symptoms include:  

What causes thyroiditis due to COVID?

The thyroid gland is crucial in its function for human metabolism and the development and growth of the body. Thyroid hormones are continuously released into the bloodstream, which helps regulate extensive bodily functions. Particularly in a severe course of COVID disease, there can be a pronounced hormone imbalance and thyroid dysfunction: the thyroid gland reduces the uptake of technetium and iodine, which it originally needs for its own regulation. Gradually, the thyroid gland increases in volume and thyroiditis (SAT) follows. 

Thyroiditis de Quervain (SAT) progresses in different stages: 

Phase I: Initially, hyperthyroidism occurs. The symptoms are triggered by the previous respiratory infection with the coronavirus.

Phase II: Subsequently, the thyroid gland normalizes its function for a short period of time. The symptoms may decrease for a period before phase III occurs.

Phase III: Hyperthyroidism develops into hypothyroidism. If left untreated, the disease can become chronic. For this reason, close monitoring of thyroid levels by a doctor during each phase is crucial for targeted treatment. 

Why are women more often affected by thyroid disease than men? 

Even without the Thyroiditis de Quervain (SAT) described here, women are more often affected by thyroid disease than men. About ten times more women than men develop autoimmune thyroid disease. In the case of virus-triggered thyroiditis, as is the case with sore throats after COVID infection, about five times as many women are affected. Possible reasons for the increased incidence of the disease in women may lie in the extensive interplay of the hormonal system - especially between the female sex hormones and the thyroid hormones.

COVID sore throat remedies

Sufferers of COVID sore throat ask themselves, after the initial, “is sore throat a COVID symptom?” as well as the inevitably later, “how long does COVID sore throat last?” what they can do to relieve the pain and bring about the quickest possible recovery to get rid of the evident discomfort.

The following treatment options are recommended for COVID sore throat:

Drink plenty of fluids: The body needs sufficient fluids during the illness phase to soothe the affected mucous membranes in the throat and pharynx. Anti-inflammatory teas and water are recommended. Citrus’ effect is well-known as protection against infection and against sore throat in COVID.

Gargling: Special antiviral mouthwashes reduce the number of pathogens on the oral mucosa and relieve discomfort.

Moisturize mucous membranes: In principle, care should always be taken to ensure that the mucous membranes of the throat are well moistened, as this makes it more difficult for viruses to penetrate. Dried mucous membranes favor inflammation and viral infections. The plasma nasal spray against COVID provides such protection against viruses and at the same time ensures well-moistened mucous membranes.

Suck throat pastilles: In addition, lozenges can have a soothing effect on the mucous membranes and at the same time moisten them sustainably by sucking. This way, COVID sore throat when there’s no fever can be relieved.

Keep the body warm: Especially in the winter months, the body should always be kept warm. This allows the blood vessels to expand well and strengthens the immune defense.

Observe hygiene rules: The generally known hygiene rules should also be observed, not only to protect oneself, but also to avoid infecting other people. When coughing, saliva sprays masses of viruses that can easily enter the respiratory tract and infect other people. Keeping a sufficient distance and wearing a mask can prevent transmission of the viruses.

Conclusion: Relieve COVID sore throat as an only symptom

Severe sore throats triggered by COVID are experienced by sufferers as particularly painful. The mucous membranes in the throat react irritably to the penetration of the viruses, which leads to unpleasant discomfort in the throat. Sufferers of this symptom ask themselves if COVID sore throat (especially with no fever) is a possible indicator, and what to do to deal with it. With targeted treatment methods, COVID (notoriously in omicron symptoms) sore throat can be treated efficiently and the discomfort relieved.

COVID sore throat: What helps and provides relief is the use of special mouthwashes for COVID.

However, a prolonged symptom of sore throat after COVID (vaccine or overcoming an infection), should be clarified by a doctor, as their cause may lie in a secondary disease, such as an inflammation of the thyroid gland.