Sore throats are common for people of all ages, and particularly in the cooler months as more people are in close contact indoors. Some cases are more problematic than others, especially those caused by bacterial infections. These must be treated promptly with antibiotics to prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery. How do you know if your bout of acute pharyngitis is just scratchy and short-lived or something more, such as strep throat? Keep reading to discover common symptoms of both.
Causes and Symptoms of Acute Pharyngitis
Common reasons you might develop soreness or hoarseness include:
- Dry weather
- Other viral infections (such as colds)
- Bacterial infections
Symptoms are varied but can include pain while swallowing, redness, headache, inflamed nasal passages, swollen tonsils and fever. More severe symptoms can include joint pain, swollen lymph node glands and skin rashes. Left untreated, ear infections or sinusitis could occur.
Treating a Sore Throat
Viral infections are very common and typically do not require medical attention. If your symptoms seem mild, you can treat soreness at home by drinking soothing liquids such as warm tea with honey. As a treat, fruit-flavored popsicles can also help soothe the area. Teenagers and adults can use cough drops or lozenges during the day, or over-the-counter pain medication to help manage symptoms. Winter weather often brings dry air, so consider setting up a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist. You can include a drop or two of an essential oil such as eucalyptus or lemon to further help open sinus passages.
If your throat pain feels more severe or lingers more than few days, contact a medical professional to identify and treat the cause. In the meantime, try to get plenty of rest and drink more non-caffeinated fluids than usual to stay hydrated.
How to Tell if Your Sore Throat is Strep
Streptococcus is a highly contagious bacterial infection that develops following contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of strep are so similar to other cases of acute pharyngitis that a doctor will not be able to diagnose you without performing a rapid test or throat culture. Without a proper diagnosis, the doctor will not be able to issue antibiotics to treat a possible infection.
However, your soreness could indicate strep if you experience a high fever, a rash or swollen lymph nodes in your neck. You should also contact a doctor when what seems like a typical sore throat does not go away after several days, or if you notice white streaks on the tonsils.
Seek Help Anytime: eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic
If you suspect you or a family member might have strep, visit eMedical Urgent Care walk-in clinic without delay. Our emergency medical physicians provide quick diagnoses and treatment options for both children and adults. We offer convenient hours at both of our locations to better serve your busy schedule and urgent needs. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.