Sore Throat is an infectious disease and causes irritation, pain, and scratchiness of your throat that might worsen with your swallow. The most common cause of Sore throat is a Viral Infection such as cold or flu.
However, Strep Throat is a less common type of Sore Throat and is due to bacteria, and requires treatment with antibiotics.
Most often doctors also refer it to as Pharyngitis and can lead to inflammation of the tissues of your throat. Your throat is a tube-like structure that carries both foods to the esophagus and air to the windpipe.
Infectious agents enter your throat through the mouth or nose. Many of these infections are viral infections, others are due to bacteria present in the atmosphere.
While streptococcal bacteria are the agents that can cause painful and well-known conditions that are known as Step Throat.
It is important to note that most throat infections are due to viruses, while certain bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
In most cases, children younger than 10 years of age are affected most due to this infectious disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Sore Throat
Signs and symptoms of Sore Throat can be visible for several weeks in young children than in adults, however, it is important to note that if these subside with time, it does not mean that the infection is gone.
Most importantly, as directed by your doctor, continue to take these medications. It becomes difficult to breathe if the signs and symptoms become severe and if your fever exceeds 101 degrees.
You may or may not experience all the signs and symptoms, however, it depends on the on cause and extent of the infection.
Common signs and symptoms of this disease are body aches, cough, difficulty in breathing, difficulty in swallowing, dry throat, enlarged lymph nodes or tonsils, fever and chills, hoarseness, and throat pain.
Serious Signs and Symptoms
If you do not get treatment in time, it can be life-threatening as in severe cases, it tends to block the airway. The infection might also spread into your bloodstream and will lead to rheumatic fever or sepsis.
You need to seek medical advice immediately in case you develop pus or white patches on your tonsils or at the back of your throat.
The Signs and Symptoms are choking, changing levels of consciousness, fainting, lethargy, high fever, joint pain, jerky movements, breathing difficulty, rapid heart rate, severe pain, and swelling in your throat and tongue.
Causes of Sore Throat
Causes of Sore throat can either be due to the following reasons.
Allergies: Certain factors in the environment like pollen, grass, and pet danger can trigger your immune system to react to allergic reactions.
It releases chemicals in your throat, that causes symptoms like nasal congestion, watery eyes, and throat irritation.
Excess mucus can also drip down your nose, and can also irritate your throat. This is also called Postnasal Drip.
Bacterial Infections: Certain bacteria can also cause Sore Throat. The most common one is Strep Throat which infects the tonsils and throat.
Dry Air: It can such moisture from your throat and mouth and leave them feeling dry and scratchy. This air is most likely to occur in winter when the heater is running around you.
Smoke and Chemical: Smoking and Chemicals present in the environment can cause irritation in your mouth and throat. This can lead to Sore Throat.
Sometimes, cleaning products can also cause this infection.
According to a study, many firefighters reported frequent sore throats.
Injury: Sometimes an injury or hit to the neck can cause pain in your throat. repeated use of vocal cords, food stuck in your throat, yelling, talking loudly and singing can also cause sore throat.
Tumor: A tumor of your throat, voice box, tongue although uncommon can cause sore throat. It can also be a sign of Cancer if it does not go away after a few days.
GERD: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, and burns your throat.
Common symptoms include heartburn and acid flux.
Diagnosis of Sore Thorat
In case your sore throat does not go away after a few days, seek medical advice as it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Diagnosis depends on the signs and symptoms your experience. Moreover, they will use a light to check the back of your throat for redness, swelling, and white spots.
The doctor will also check for swollen lymph nodes around your neck, at the back of your ears, and tonsils.
In case they suspect Strep Throat, they will order a throat culture to diagnose it.
During this procedure, they will swab over the back of your throat and collect a sample to test for it. The doctor gets immediate results with Rapid Strep Test.
Moreover, to confirm the diagnosis, they might also send the sample to the lab, however, it takes at least 3 days for the results. This test gives more definite results.
Sometimes, to diagnose a Sore Throat, your doctor may order other tests to figure out the cause of it. You might want to see an ENT specialist or otolaryngologist check for the cause of this disease.
In some cases, Severe Sore Thorat can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, etc.
You can visit our lab for the test.
Most often Sore Throat goes away within a few days, however, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat underlying causes of it.
Certain OTC medications like Tylenol, Avil, Motrin, and Asprin can help relieve the symptoms.
However, do not give these medications to children or teenagers especially Asprin as it can lead to the development of a rare condition, Raye’s Syndrome.
Use can use one or more of the following treatment that works directly on the pain. These are:
- A Sore Throat Spray that contains numbing antiseptic
- Throat lozenges
- Cough Syrup
Using certain types of herbs can also treat Sore Throat like Slippery Elm, Marshmallow Root, and Licorice root.
Moreover, medications that reduce stomach acid can help treat sore throat if the cause of it is GERD. These medications are:
- H2 Blockers
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Use of Antibiotics
Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to treat infection due to bacteria. However, they will not treat viral infections.
To prevent further complications, your doctor will treat Strep Throat with antibiotics. These complications might lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, and rheumatic fever.
These antibiotics reduce your chances of developing further complications and reduce pain in a day or so.
Your doctor may prescribe medications for at least 10 days and it is important that you follow the doctor’s instructions to reduce the chances of complications.
Moreover, if your leave the medications midway, it might make you sick again as the bacteria may still be alive.
You can treat sore throat at home as well. however, in severe cases, you should seek medical help.
In case of mild signs and symptoms, get enough rest as it gives your immune system a chance to fight the infection.
Using salt water can help you relieve the signs and symptoms.
You can gargle with a mixture of warm water and a teaspoon of salt to relieve pain in your throat. Drinking warm liquids like tea, soup broth, herbal tea can soothe a sore throat.
Try to cool your throat by eating ice cream or a popsicle, take a hard candy, turn on a mist humidifier to add moisture in the air, and rest your vice until your throat feels better.
When to See A Doctor?
In some cases, a sore throat can lead to severe complications. Moreover, if the condition does not go away with a few days it might be due to certain medical underlying conditions and you need treatment for it.
Consult your doctor or seek medical advice if you have a severe sore throat, trouble swallowing food, trouble breathing, or pain while you breathe.
Moreover, you experience joint paint, difficulty while opening your mouth, fever that is higher than 101 degrees, earache, and blood in your saliva.
Difference Between Sore Thorat and Strep Throat
Strep throat is more common in children younger than in adults and is caused due to a virus in the body. Moreover, a step bacteria cause Strep Throat.
It is important to note that not all sore throats are a result of Strep Infection. Other medical conditions can also cause Sore throat as well. These are:
- Common Cold
- Sinus Infection
- Postnatal Drip
- Acid Reflux
Sore Throats usually improve on their own with or without treatment if caused due to other medical conditions. However, for Strep Throat, your doctor will prescribe certain medications like anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation.
How to Prevent it?
There are many ways to prevent it but the best way to prevent sore throats is to avoid catching the germs that cause them. If you follow these tips then you are likely to protect your child from these germs. They are:
Wash your hands for 10 seconds thoroughly and frequently, you should avoid sharing food, glasses, and utensils and if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and then throw it away
Moreover, use sanitizers that are alcohol-based, avoid drinking from water fountains and using public phones, and avoid contact with people who are sick.
There are many reasons for the cause of sore throats such as viral and bacterial infections, as well as many irritants. Usually, sore throats get better within a few days without any medications.
If you have a sore throat and want to cure it without any medication then rest, warm liquids, and saltwater gargles can help soothe and relax your sore throat.
Strep throat is often treated by medications. A swab test can be used to check strep throat. In case you have trouble breathing, swallowing and a high fever then you should immediately consult a doctor.