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All you need to know about sore throat

Around this time of year, we have all had sore throats. When you swallow, your throat feels scratchy and may hurt. What can you do in order to soothe a sore throat? And when is this a sign of an infection that is more serious? Will it get better without antibiotics? Or will you need to visit the doctor?

This condition might start with a scratchy tickle at the back of your throat — or it could hit all at once. A sore throat is amongst the most common symptoms people experience. This is because so many different things can cause it, from mild irritations to serious illnesses. So, how do you know when to visit a doctor? It depends on three things: how much it hurts, how long it lasts, and what other symptoms you have with it.

A sore throat means you're hurting your throat. It feels scratchy or irritated. Slight discomfort or burning pain can be experienced. Ear and sinus infections include possible sore throat complications. A pus accumulation (abscess) near your tonsils is another complication. Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by the bacteria Streptococcus. While there are various types of Streptococcus (or simply, strep), the greatest concern is the group A variety. Strep group A, left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body. When it comes to COVID-19 symptoms, it becomes very difficult to identify the source of the problem, as a sore throat can be a possible symptom for both COVID-19 and the common cold. A covid sore throat is a common symptom of COVID-19 along with other pre-dominating symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Schedule a consultation with our Internal Medicine Specialist, Dr. Rathna Kumar Yallapragada, MD at Curewell Medical Center to get a personalised treatment plan for your illness. 

Symptoms of strep throat

Symptoms of strep throat are generally more severe than those of a sore throat caused by a virus. They can include:

Sudden sore throat.

Red tonsils that have white spots on them.

Fever.

Swollen neck glands.

Pain when swallowing.

Loss of appetite.

Headache.

Abdominal pain.

If your physician suspects strep, a simple, painless, Test can confirm the diagnosis. The physician will dab a cotton swab on the back of your throat and the swab will then be tested for the presence of Streptococcus pyogenes. Viral diseases may exhibit the same symptoms as strep throat. So it’s essential to get a throat swab to confirm the presence of the strep bacteria in the throat. In this way, your doctor may prescribe sore throat medicine that is suitable for bacterial diseases such as strep, but not for viral diseases such as a cold.

What causes a sore throat?

The majority of the sore throats are due to colds or flu. A virus can cause a sore throat. These include strep throat, tonsillitis, and mononucleosis (mono). Other causes include smoking, mouth breathing at night while you're sleeping, pollution and pet, pollen, and mold allergies.

When visiting a doctor is necessary for a sore throat?

While a sore throat is not necessarily an emergency, it is important to pay heed to other symptoms that may occur along with it. Keep an eye out for strep throat symptoms or symptoms of other infections, such as pneumonia. See a physician right away through our Telemedicine Services if a sore throat lasts more than a week or if it comes with:

Fever higher than 100.4˚F

Severe pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing

White patches or pus on the tonsils or back of the throat

Excessive drooling in infants or young children

Nausea or vomiting

Swollen lymph nodes

Severe headache, muscle aches, or joint pain

Blood in saliva or phlegm

Persistent cough, hoarseness, or change in voice

Fatigue

Rash

Go for safe and secure virtual visits

In most cases of strep, a diagnostic throat swab is needed to be certain of the diagnosis. Our physicians can help get the best treatment plan. We provide HIPAA compliant Telemedicine Services as well which is empowered by PatientMD through which you can visit/consult our expert physicians over audio, video, or chat. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid going to the doctor or urgent care if you can avoid it?

Final thoughts:

Remember that a sore throat with many possible causes is a very prevalent symptom. Pay attention when you have a sore throat to what the rest of your body tells you. And for a thorough check-up and timely treatment, always see a doctor.