The painful symptoms of a sore throat are hard to ignore. It can feel dry, scratchy, and hard to swallow. The cause of a sore throat varies from screaming too loudly at a concert to a bacterial infection. Here is a look at several conditions that can cause a sore throat and how to know when to see a doctor.
Three Main Causes of Sore Throats
If you suffer from allergies, whether it be to certain foods, pollen, or pet dander, you may have experienced a sore throat as a result. Allergies trigger nasal congestion, which leads to postnasal drip. This is when mucus from your nose runs down the back of your throat, causing irritation.
There is really no need to see a doctor for a sore throat caused by an allergic response. The symptoms are relatively mild and can usually be handled with over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications and decongestants. However, if your allergy symptoms become more troublesome, you may consider a visit to an allergist.
Colds and the Flu
Viral infections cause colds and the flu. Both illnesses can lead to a sore throat and a host of other symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, body aches, and fatigue. The flu, however, will also present with chills and a fever. Most sore throats will dissipate within three to 10 days if a viral infection is the culprit.
How to Care for a Sore Throat
If you want to know how to care for a sore throat that doesn’t require you to see a doctor, here are some at-home remedies.
- Sip on warm liquids, like tea or chicken soup.
- If cold soothes your throat best, drink ice water or eat popsicles.
- Gargle warm water mixed with a solution of salt or baking soda.
- Over the counter antihistamines and pain relievers can help dull throat pain.
- Another way to care for a sore throat is to take a hot shower. Steam can loosen mucus and moisturize the throat.
When to See a Doctor for a Sore Throat
In most cases, your sore throat will improve with at-home treatment. However, there are certain cases that will require you to see a doctor for immediate care.
- Difficulty eating, talking or sleeping due to your throat being blocked by swollen tonsils
- A high fever of over 101°F that lasts longer than one to two days
- Swollen glands
If you experience any of those symptoms, it could mean you have strep throat, a bacterial infection. You should see a doctor as soon as possible so they can take a throat swab to test you for strep. If the test comes up positive, you will be prescribed antibiotics.
You never need to make an appointment at American Family Care (AFC). We offer an urgent care strep test right on site. We make healthcare more accessible, convenient, and affordable than your typical options. We can take a throat swab, make note of other symptoms to form a diagnosis and provide streamlined care and a treatment plan. Click here to find an AFC location near you and start feeling better faster.