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Sore Throat Symptoms & Treatments

Sore Throat Symptoms & Treatments

Pharyngitis is the medical condition referring to a sore throat. It references inflammation and irritation of the pharynx or throat.

A sore throat may be caused by many underlying conditions. Your symptoms and treatment depend on the cause.

Bacterial infections and viruses make a doctor consultation essential as prescription medication such as antibiotics is the only thing that'll clear your throat infection. Yet, mild irritation can often heal with nothing more than rest, good food, and hydration.

Here we'll be taking you through a look at the different types of sore throat, and what you can do to get treatment.

Symptoms of a Sore Throat

Common symptoms of a sore throat:

  • Dryness
  • Burning, itching and/or scratching sensations
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Swollen glands and/or lymph nodes
  • Reddening of the throat & tonsils
  • Pain while talking
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Throat congestion
  • Cough

More Severe Symptoms of a Sore Throat
Below are more severe symptoms of a sore throat that point to a viral or bacterial infection.

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Rash
  • Blood in phlegm
  • Blood in saliva

Causes of a Sore Throat

A persistent sore throat is the first sign that you've got either a bacterial or viral infection. Viral infections are more common than bacterial infections but both require a prescription from your doctor in order to fight off the infection.

Common causes of a sore throat:

  • Viral & bacterial infections
  • Allergies
  • Irritants
  • Muscle strain

Rare causes of a sore throat:

  • An abscess
  • A tumor
  • HIV infection

Here's a closer look at all the possible causes.

Viral Infections

40% to 70% of all sore throats are caused by a virus. There are many viral infections that can cause a sore throat, the most common are:

Out of the 3 infections listed above, the most common viral infections that lead to a sore throat are the viruses that cause the common cold. That is why a sore throat is a common symptom of the common cold.

Viruses that cause the common cold and sore throat are:

  • Rhinovirus
  • Coronavirus
  • The Orthomyxoviridae family
  • Infectious mononucleosis - or glandular fever

Bacterial Infections

Streptococcus bacterium, or strep, is the most common bacterial cause of a sore throat. It is also where the term 'strep throat' gets its name.

It causes between 15% and 30% of all sore throats. Antibiotics for strep throat normally clear the condition in a week or two. Far less common causes of sore throat include:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Corynebacterium

Regardless of what type of bacterial infection is present, antibiotics are always necessary. Your bacterial infection won't go away by itself and will likely worsen and spread without antibiotic treatment.

Other Causes of Sore Throat

Besides viral and bacterial infections, there are a range of other underlying causes of a sore throat. Here are the most common alternate causes of pharyngitis:

  • Allergies - An immune reaction to an allergen can cause swelling and irritation of the throat. Post nasal drip from an allergic reaction can cause a sore throat as well.
  • Irritants - Chemicals, dust, cigarette & tobacco smoke, and air pollution can cause a sore throat.
  • Muscle strain - Tension from overextending the muscles in the neck and shoulders can make breathing and swallowing difficult.
  • Laryngitis - Overuse of the vocal cords can leave the throat sore and the voice damaged.
  • Fungal Infection - The fungal infection Candida albicans often causes pharyngitis.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - Extreme acid reflux can cause inflammation of the throat and pharynx.
  • Exposure to extreme cold - Very cold temperatures where air temperatures are dangerously low can cause a sore throat.
  • Tumors - A tumor present in the throat, mouth, tongue, or voice box can cause extreme discomfort.

Diagnosing a Sore Throat

Diagnosing pharyngitis is usually done by means of a visual exam. A doctor will inspect your mouth, throat, and pharynx for inflammation and swelling. If any ulcers, white tissue, excessive swelling, bleeding, or severe reddening is found, a tissue sample may be taken. A throat swab may be taken when bacterial or viral pharyngitis is suspected. If there is a risk of mononucleosis, your doctor will request a blood test. Most bacterial infections such as strep throat are diagnosed within minutes.

When to See a Doctor

Severe pain, excessive swelling, a sore throat that persists for more then 10 days, or gets progressively worse needs to receive immediate medical attention.

Find sore throat treatment online with the help of PlushCare. Our doctors can diagnose your condition online via video chat and refer you for further testing if necessary. Once the cause of your sore throat is diagnosed you will be prescribed the proper medication and can pick up your prescription at the pharmacy of your choice.

Book a consultation with a PlushCare doctor today and skip the waiting room. You'll receive quality care and treatment while spending a fraction of the time it takes to go into the doctor's office.

Sore Throat Treatments

Throat infections need to be treated to minimize pain and prevent complications such as the infection spreading to the bloodstream.

Over-the-counter sore throat medications include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. A combination of mild painkillers and anti-inflammatories will ease help the pain. You can also try natural remedies at home.

Bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotics, while you use other medication for pain relief. Anti-bacterial throat sprays, lozenges, cough syrups, and mouth wash all bring relief to sufferers.

Mild pharyngitis normally clears up by itself but a persistent sore throat that lasts more than 7-10 days, or progressively gets worse may require antiviral medication or an antibiotics prescription from a doctor.

If you want a consultation without leaving the comfort of your home, contact PlushCare for fast and effective treatment, the doctor is waiting for you.

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Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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