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Sore Throat

A sore throat is a symptom, not a disease. A sore throat may be the result of a bacterial or viral infection or it may be the result of irritation caused by smoking, excessive loud talking, overly dry heated rooms, or the result of secretions from the nose draining down the throat in association with a cold or allergy.

When a clinician looks in your throat, he/she looks for redness and patches of white, yellow, or grayish material. He also considers if you have a fever, pain around the sinus areas, lumps in the neck, and how many days the symptoms have been present (usually about 7 days).

He may do a "rapid strep test", which tests for Group A Streptococcus (Strep), a bacteria. If this is positive, you will be given a prescription for antibiotics, which treat the bacterial infection. Since other bacteria may cause a sore throat, your clinician may choose to do a throat culture; however these results are generally not available for 24-48 hours as they are sent to our reference lab. Your clinician may also prescribe an antibiotic based on the presenting symptoms. However antibiotics are not generally recommended since they may cause adverse reactions.

Since only 10% of sore throats are due to bacteria, treatment of a sore throat consists of alleviating the symptoms. Treatment consists of:

  • acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief and fever reduction.
  • gargling with salt water (1/2 to 1 tsp. salt in an 8 oz glass of warm water), or honey & warm water (equal parts).
  • sucking on hard candy or throat lozenges can soothe the throat.
  • drinking plenty of water or other clear liquids to help keep the mucous membranes moist. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • get enough rest and eat proper, nutritional meals.
  • avoid irritants like cigarette smoke, irritating inhalants, and excessive talking.
  • use of humidifiers or vaporizers to add moisture to the air.

See a healthcare professional immediately if you cannot swallow or become short of breath.

CONTACT HEALTH SERVICE OR YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR CONCERNS.