Sore throats are often associated with a cold or the flu. But, truth is, there are many other things that can cause a sore throat, like allergies, nasal infections, acid reflux, cigarette smoke, pollution, dry air, or even cheering too loud at a concert. When the mucous membranes of your repertory airway become dry or inflamed, the result is a throat that feels scratchy, dry, hot, and raw. A sore throat, depending on the cause, should last for no longer 7 to 10 days. If sore throat symptoms last for more than 10 days, see a doctor to diagnose the cause and start treatment. Eventually sore throat is a normal thing. But you should see your doctor right away if you have a sore throat with a high fever, if you have problems breathing or swallowing, or if you feel very faint. If you have a sore throat and a fever, but you just feel mildly ill, you should visit your doctor within the next day or two.
Symptoms that makes you concerned
Sometimes symptoms change during the course of an illness. Visit your doctor
again if you have any of the following problems:
- Fever that does not go away in five days
- Throat pain that gets so bad you can’t swallow
- Inability to open your mouth wide
- A fainting feeling when you stand up
- Any other signs or symptoms that concern you
These are the general overview. Contact your family doctor if you see any other things that are bothering you. In nearly all cases, a sore throat or tonsillitis clears away without leaving any problems. However, occasionally a typical sore throat may progress to cause complications. Also, a sore throat is sometimes due to an unusual, but more serious, illness. Therefore, for the sake of completeness, the sort of things to look out for includes the following:
How will I be tested for a sore throat?
To test for strep throat, your doctor may want to do a throat culture, a non-surgical procedure that uses an instrument to take a sampling of the infected cells. Because the culture will not detect other infections, when it is negative, your physician will base his/her decision for treatment on the severity of your symptoms and the appearance of your throat on examination.
How can I tell if a sore throat is a virus or a more serious infection?
The majority of sore throats are caused by a viral infection, like those which cause colds and flu. These are most common in the winter, when we spend more time indoors in contact with other people, enabling germs to spread rapidly. A viral infection can lead to a more serious bacterial infection once the immune system has been weakened. When your sore throat is caused by a viral infection there is no immediate treatment. Fortunately, viral infections usually only last a few days as the body is normally able to fight off the infection by itself.
To test for strep throat, your doctor may want to do a throat culture, a non-surgical procedure that uses an instrument to take a sampling of the infected cells. Because the culture will not detect other infections, when it is negative, your physician will base his/her decision for treatment on the severity of your symptoms and the appearance of your throat on examination. In infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, the most frequent cause of sore throats is a viral infection. No specific medicine is required when a virus is responsible, and the child should get better over a seven- to ten-day period. Often children who have sore throats due to viruses also have a cold at the same time. They may develop a mild fever, too, but they generally aren’t very sick.
In most cases, your sore throat will be healed with at-home treatment. However, it’s time to see your doctor if a severe sore throat and a fever over 101 degrees lasts longer than one to two days; you have difficulty sleeping because your throat is blocked by swollen tonsils or adenoids; or a red rash appears that feels like sandpaper, which could be a symptom of Scarlet Fever.
The truth about strep is that it is safe to wait a couple of days before treatment is started. Studies have shown that delaying treatment does not increase the risk of complications from strep. One study has even shown a beneficial effect if treatment is delayed because the body has a few days to mount an immune response to the infection. The only drawback from delayed treatment is more days of sore throat. If possible treating strep throat is recommended early rather than later.