A sore throat is a painful, dry, or scratchy feeling in the throat.
Pain in the throat is one of the most common symptoms. It accounts for more than 13 million visits to doctor’s offices each year
Common Sore Throat or Something Else? We all know that raw, scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. It could just be dry winter air, seasonal allergies, or a plain old cold. But it also could be a bacterial condition, like strep, or viral infection or something else. Only your health care provider can tell for sure. But you can look for a few signs on your own.
Take a Good Look
Grab a flashlight, look in the mirror, and say, “Ahhh.” You could find some important clues. You might see white dots or patches in the back of your throat. Your tonsils — the bumps on either side at the back of your throat — might be red and swollen, too. These could be signs of bacterial infection like strep throat or oral thrush or a viral infection like oral herpes or mononucleosis. They also might be something else, like tonsil stones, which are painful calcium deposits on your throat.
Do You Have Cold Symptoms?
If you have a cough and drippy nose along with your sore throat, that could be good news. You may feel crummy, but you’re less likely to have a serious infection. You probably just have a common cold virus and post-nasal drip.
Do You Have a Fever?
Colds can cause a fever, but it’s usually just a mild one. If you have a sore throat and a fever over 101 F, it’s more likely to be a throat infection like strep than a simple cold. But these don’t always raise your temperature — so watch for other symptoms.
Are Your Lymph Nodes Swollen?
The most common reason is infection — viral or bacterial. Lymph nodes trap and destroy germs, and they can swell up when they start to fight infection. You might feel them under your jaw or on either side of your neck. But it doesn’t always mean anything serious. Even the common cold can cause swollen lymph nodes.
How Much Does It Hurt?
When a cold causes your sore throat, it can be plenty painful, but it usually goes away after a couple of days. Bacterial infections, like strep throat, tend to cause more severe pain that doesn’t get better. With strep, it may hurt so much that you can barely swallow. Sometimes, it can cause nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, or stomach pain as well.
Is There a Rash?
A rash on your neck and chest that sometimes spreads to the rest of your body can be a sign of a group of bacterial infections called streptococcal infections. The most minor of these is strep throat, but they also include more serious ones, like scarlet fever, bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), and toxic shock syndrome. They all need to be treated by a doctor — usually with antibiotics — as soon as possible.
They may feel the same, but a common sore throat and bacterial infections are very different. Most sore throats are caused by viruses, like the cold virus. No medication will cure a cold virus — you have to let your body heal on its own. But antibiotics can fight a bacterial infection, such as strep, and stop it from spreading.
Colds & Antibiotics: Just Say No
If you have a sore throat from a cold, antibiotics won’t help at all. They only help against bacteria, not viruses. Taking antibiotics when you don’t really need them has a risk, too. Too much exposure to antibiotics can turn regular bacteria into “superbugs” that don’t respond to treatment.
Rapid Strep Test: To figure out if strep — the most common bacterial throat infection — is causing your sore throat, your doctor may use a rapid strep test. Results are ready in 5 to 10 minutes, but the test doesn’t pick up all cases of strep. If yours is negative, your doctor may send a throat culture to the lab to be sure. That’s more thorough, but you won’t get the results for a few days.
Hope this article is Helpful 🙂 🙂