Doctor checking tonsils of patient at hospital

Sore Throat


How to Recognize Sore Throat Symptoms?

Sore throat symptoms vary depending on the cause, but most often include:

  • A scratchy throat
  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Swollen glands
  • White patches or pus on the tonsils
  • Hoarseness

If you have any of these symptoms, your MD Now provider will likely conduct a test to determine if what you have is strep throat.

 

What to Do for a Sore Throat When Swallowing?

Treatment for pain when swallowing generally depends on the cause. Your MD Now provider may identify what’s causing your pain simply listening to your symptoms and examining you. Based on this diagnosis, a recommendation may be made for an antifungal medication to treat a yeast infection, an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection or some other treatment.

If you experience recurring tonsillitis, or tonsillitis that doesn’t respond to medication, you may require a tonsillectomy. Your MD Now provider can recommend an appropriate specialist, if needed.

The following may help for short-term relief:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for swelling and inflammation
  • Throat sprays to numb the throat
  • Gargling with salt water to reduce inflammation
  • Sipping warm drinks, such as herbal tea
  • Over-the-counter antacids for acid reflux
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco use

 

How Long Should You Wait to Go to the Doctor for a Sore Throat?

Children should visit an MD Now provider for a sore throat that doesn’t go away with the first drink in the morning. Seek immediate care if your child experiences:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Drooling (possibly indicating an inability to swallow)

Adults should seek treatment for a sore throat with any of the following:

  • Severe soreness, or soreness lasting longer than one week
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • A fever higher than 101ºF
  • Joint pain
  • Blood in the saliva or phlegm
  • Face or neck swelling, or a lump in the neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks
  • Frequent recurrence

Regardless of symptoms, if you or your child has difficulty breathing or swallowing, call 911 for immediate medical attention. For non-emergency medical treatment, visit your local MD Now Urgent Care.


Strep Throat


What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat, or streptococcal sore throat, is most common in children. While a virus causes most sore throats, strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection known as group A strep.

Strep throat symptoms generally include:

  • A sore throat that comes on quickly
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen tonsils, possibly with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Additional strep throat symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain, especially in children. A rash known as scarlet fever, although less common, is another strep throat symptom.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Throat Infection?

Sore throats caused by an infection typically exhibit additional symptoms beyond those caused by allergies or acid reflux. These symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Sore throat treatment is based on the cause of the infection. A viral infection is responsible for most sore throats. Others are caused by group A strep, tonsillitis, croup, laryngitis, or even cancer. Your MD Now provider will prescribe sore throat treatment or recommend an appropriate specialist once the cause of your symptoms has been diagnosed.

 

How Long Is the Incubation Period for a Sore Throat Infection?

Strep infection is highly contagious and spreads through direct or respiratory droplet contact with someone previously infected. The incubation period for both a viral infection and strep infection is typically two to five days.

Those who share close quarters—such as a home, classroom, day care, or college dorm—have a higher risk of catching a strep infection. In household environments, the risk is approximately 40%.

If you’ve been exposed to someone with the infection and develop strep throat symptoms, see your MD Now provider promptly. The sooner you begin treatment, the more quickly you’ll recover. You’ll also be less likely to pass the infection along to others, such as family members.

What Is the Most Important Aspect of Strep Throat Treatment?

If your sore throat is caused by strep, you will need a course of antibiotics to kill the infection. To determine between what is strep throat and what is simply a sore throat caused by a virus, your MD Now provider will perform a rapid strep test, which involves swabbing your throat.

If the test confirms a strep infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics to help you recover more quickly. If the test result is negative, a second test, using DNA or a lab culture, may be conducted just to make sure.

A second test is especially important for children and teens, since they sometimes develop rheumatic fever from strep throat. For adults, this step is rarely necessary, since they have a lower risk for rheumatic fever.


The content provided on the MD Now website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for receiving medical care and treatment from a qualified healthcare provider. Never delay seeking advice, evaluation, and treatment from a medical professional because of what you’ve read on this site, since the information provided may not apply to you or your symptoms.