Sore throats are not only painful, but also one of the top reasons for trips to the doctor and sick days taken from work or school. Anyone who has ever suffered from a sore throat knows just how miserable it can be. But there’s good news – relief is just around the corner!
If you’re suffering from a sore throat, you can schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today.
Need more information? Check out some of the topics below to learn more about specific throat problems many people face.
Sore Throat & Tonsillitis
A sore throat, also called throat infection or pharyngitis, refers to pain, itchiness, or irritation of the throat. You may have difficulty swallowing food and liquids, and the pain may get worse when you try to swallow. Throat pain is the primary symptom of a sore throat. However, other symptoms may include a dry throat, swollen glands in the neck, white patches on the tonsils, and hoarseness. The most common cause of sore throat is bacterial infection or a viruIn cases of infectious pharyngitis that are not viral, the cause is almost always a bacterium, which causes what is commonly called strep throat. Like viral pharyngitis, strep throat can spread quickly and easily within a community, especially during winter and early spring. Unlike most forms of viral pharyngitis, however, untreated strep throat can lead to serious complications, such as glomerulonephritis (a kidney disorder) and rheumatic fever (a potentially life-threatening illness that can damage heart valves). A strep infection also has the potential to spread within the body, causing pockets of pus (abscesses) in the tonsils and in the soft tissue around the throat.
Sore Throat Symptoms
- Viral pharyngitis: Sore throat often occurs with the following symptoms: pain when swallowing; redness in the throat; runny nose; stuffy nose; cough; hoarseness; redness of the eyes; and, in children, diarrhea. In some cases, there can be a painful redness around the mouth or small painful sores on the lips and inside the mouth.
- Strep throat: With strep throat and other forms of bacterial pharyngitis, sore throat can be accompanied by any of the following symptoms: fever; pain when swallowing; a generally sick feeling (malaise); headache; redness and swelling in the throat; a coating on the tonsils or tongue; and swollen, tender lymph nodes (swollen glands) in the front of the neck. Children also can have nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Because symptoms of viral and bacterial pharyngitis can overlap, it may be difficult for the doctor to distinguish between them based on symptoms alone. Generally, if you have a prominent cough and nasal symptoms you’re more likely to have viral pharyngitis than strep throat.
In addition to viral and bacterial pharyngitis, an infection with fungi (Candida or “yeast”) sometimes can cause throat pain, difficulty swallowing and white patches inside the mouth. This throat infection, commonly called thrush, usually affects infants and people with weakened immune systems. It is relatively rare among healthy older children and adults.
A sore throat that lasts for more than a couple of weeks may be caused by acid reflux from the stomach, breathing through the mouth in a dry environment, postnasal drip or, rarely, a tumor.
How to Diagnose a Sore Throat
After reviewing your symptoms, the doctor will ask if you might recently have been exposed to someone with strep throat or any other infection involving the throat, nose or ears.
Your doctor will examine you, paying particular attention to your mouth, throat, nose, ears and the lymph nodes in your neck. If your doctor thinks you have strep throat, he or she may prescribe antibiotics without further testing. If there is some uncertainty, the doctor may want to do a strep test. A rapid strep test is done in your doctor’s office, takes only a few minutes to do and detects 80% to 90% of all cases of strep throat. If this quick test is negative, but your doctor still believes you might have strep, your doctor will take a sample of your throat fluids for more intensive testing in a laboratory. Results will be available in 24 to 48 hours.
Call Charleston ENT & Allergy at (843) 766-7103 for more information or to schedule an appointment.