When to See a Doctor About a Sore Throat
Both children and adults can be affected by sore throats for a variety of reasons. These include bacteria, allergy, viruses and drainage of a runny nose that can lead to throat pain or discomfort.
Sore throat is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. To be able to treat a sore throat, the doctor must be able to determine the cause. Most of the time, viruses are the primary cause of sore throats in adults and children. Typical examples of symptoms of viral infections aside from sore throats are cough, runny nose and hoarseness. On the other hand, a sore throat accompanied by headache, fever, rash or stomach ache can be indications of strep throat. The main cause of strep throat is the Group A Streptococcus.
In some cases, a sore throat is the main symptom. Pain may be aggravated by swallowing, and there will be difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms of sore throat include hoarseness, dry throat, pus on the tonsils and swollen neck glands.
When Should You See Your Doctor?
Most of the time, sore throats are not an emergency and do not require professional help. Home remedies are also helpful for sore throats. In adults, a sore throat typically resolves on its own without treatment.
However, you must see a doctor if the sore throat has lasted more than a week and if you are showing any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Joint pain
- Lump in the throat
- Bloody mucus
- Hoarseness which lasts for more than 2 weeks
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Unusual drooling
- Frequent recurrence of sore throat
The symptoms listed above could mean the presence of a bacterial infection, which often requires medical help and treatment. There is no specific test which can determine if the cause is viral. Doctors will depend on the severity of symptoms to determine if it is a viral infection.
When strep throat is suspected, many doctors swab the throat and conduct a rapid strep test in their office. If the result is negative, a second test will be conducted. Either a lab or DNA culture can produce an accurate diagnosis.
If the test comes back as positive, the doctor will prescribe suitable antibiotics. The antibiotic can be in liquid form, capsule or intramuscular injections. Taking the right dosage and duration of antibiotics is important to prevent reoccurrence of the infection.
If your doctor diagnosed your sore throat, you can go back to participating in your usual activities. However, if you’re diagnosed with strep throat, you should stay at home. You can only go out if you have completed a 24 hour antibiotic regimen.
Preventing Sore Throat
The following are some tips which can help prevent the occurrence of a sore throat:
- Replace your toothbrush every month, if not more often
- Stop smoking
- Get plenty of rest
- Wash your hands regularly
- Eat healthy food