With cold and flu season upon us, it isn’t unlikely to be experiencing the symptoms of a sore throat. A sore throat is typically described by patients as an irritation or itchiness in the throat which may cause pain and difficulty swallowing.
While it’s possible to have a sore throat on its own, a sore throat is often the cause of viral infections such as the flu or the common cold. Sore throats that worsen over time should be treated with medical attention.
Common causes of a sore throat
As mentioned above, viral infections are often the most common cause of sore throats. While the flu and the common cold are the most likely culprits, other viruses such as mononucleosis, chickenpox, or measles can also cause sore throats and throat discomfort. Other causes include allergens and bacterial infections such as whooping cough and strep throat.
Strep throat in particular is considered one of the most common illnesses in young children and teenagers. Strep throat is typically contracted via contact with an infected person’s sores or mucus.
Sore throat symptoms
The symptoms of a sore throat can often vary depending on the person’s illness and the severity of the infection. However, typical symptoms often include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarse voice when speaking
- Throat feels dry even after drinking
- Swelling of the neck/jaw/tonsils
Additional symptoms of a sore throat that may be related to the viral or bacterial infection also include headache, body ache, nausea, runny nose, sneezing, and fever.
Treatments for a sore throat
Depending on the cause of the person’s sore throat, treatment can be found by taking over the counter lozenges, gargling salt water, drinking soup or tea, and avoiding allergens. Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs can also help to reduce the inflammation in the person’s throat to make swallowing more comfortable.
It may be in your best interest to visit an urgent care center if your sore throat continues to bother you for several days or worsens. Should the reason for your sore throat be bacterial such as an infection from strep throat, you may be prescribed antibiotics such as cephalexin, amoxicillin, or penicillin.
If your sore throat is causing you to have difficulty breathing, you can feel a lump in your throat, have a high fever, or you’ve been experiencing bloody mucus alongside your sore throat seek emergency treatment.
However, if your sore throat has simply been uncomfortable for a series of days it’s better to seek treatment via an urgent care clinic, which often have wait time of less than 15 minutes. Up to 65% of urgent care centers have an physician on-site during all treatment hours to help you get your infection under control and get you back to your everyday healthy life.