A sore throat is discomfort, pain or scratchiness in the throat. Like colds, the vast majority of sore throats are caused by viral infections. Therefore, most sore throats will not respond to antibiotics. Many people experience a mild sore throat at the beginning of a cold. When the nose or sinuses become irritated, nasal drainage can run down the back of the throat and aggravate it, especially at night, causing pain or discomfort in the throat.
Strep throat, on the other hand, is caused by Streptococcus bacteria and cannot be diagnosed by looking at the throat alone. A healthcare provider must perform a rapid strep test in order to positively diagnose strep throat. With strep throat, the sore throat is often more severe and worsens when swallowing. Headache, fever, and a general ill feeling often accompany strep throat. Additional symptoms of strep throat may also include white, draining patches on the throat, and swollen or tender lymph glands in the neck. Children may experience nausea and vomiting associated with strep throat. Strep throat can be spread from person to person and is most common in children.
It is important to visit a healthcare provider to determine the cause of a sore throat. We can examine the throat and determine if further tests are needed. While there is no cure for a sore throat caused by a cold virus, be sure to get enough rest to speed healing of your sore throat and cold. Eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids can also help speed healing. Throat lozenges and over the counter pain medicine help with pain relief associated with sore throat.
While a sore throat associated with a cold will resolve on its own, strep throat usually requires antibiotics which may be prescribed upon a positive strep throat test.* Antibiotics will not be prescribed if the strep test or throat culture is negative. Taking antibiotics when not needed, such as for a viral cold, will not only be ineffective in treating the sore throat, but is a cause for antibiotic resistance. It is important to finish the complete course of antibiotics even if symptoms get better, as this will help prevent any complications or recurrence of the infection.
This treatment is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
1 Prescriptions written when clinically appropriate. Patients have a choice of pharmacy.
2 Service is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.