What is a Sore Throat?
A sore throat, medically known as 'pharyngitis,' is a common condition characterized by a scratchy sensation in the throat, often accompanied by pain when talking or swallowing.
Typically, viral infections are the primary cause of sore throats, although streptococcus bacteria can sometimes be responsible.
Sore throats frequently serve as a symptom of underlying medical conditions, such as the common cold or influenza, but they can also occur independently.
Usually, sore throats have a relatively short duration, and most individuals recover completely within a week. However, if your sore throat persists or causes significant discomfort, our doctors are available to assist.
Symptoms of Sore Throat
Common symptoms of a sore throat include:
- A scratchy feeling in the throat.
- Pain or discomfort when swallowing or speaking.
- Swelling or tenderness of the neck glands.
- Redness and swelling of the tonsils.
- Presence of white pus on the tonsils.
- Potential loss of voice.
Depending on the underlying cause of the sore throat, additional symptoms may include:
- Runny or congested nose.
- High body temperature.
- Muscle aches and fatigue.
- Nausea or vomiting.
In the case of children with a sore throat, they may also exhibit:
- Elevated body temperature.
- Signs of fatigue or increased tiredness than usual.
Causes of Sore Throat
Sore throats can be attributed to various factors, including viral, bacterial, or other underlying conditions, with viruses being the most common culprits.
Viruses and bacteria are typically transmitted from one person to another through direct contact, such as coughs and sneezes, or indirectly via contact with surfaces touched by infected individuals.
Some potential causes of a sore throat are:
- Influenza (the flu).
- Common cold.
- Glandular fever.
- Strep throat.
- Exposure to irritants like smoke.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
- Croup, which is prevalent in children and infants.
Diagnosis of a Sore Throat
In many cases, a sore throat will go away without the need for any medical help. It can typically last from a few days to a week. However, it is essential to consult a doctor if the sore throat persists for over a week.
However, if no improvement is observed after a week, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Similarly, if your sore throat is recurring, severe, or accompanied by concerning symptoms such as a high temperature, it is recommended to seek the advice of a doctor.
Individuals with a compromised immune system should also seek medical guidance since they are more vulnerable to complications arising from a sore throat.
Our doctors can assess your symptoms through a video consultation, examine your throat, and provide a diagnosis.
In cases where you start experiencing symptoms such as coughing up blood, chest pain, drooling, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, high-pitched wheezing sounds during breathing, or a rapid deterioration in your condition, it is crucial to immediately go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) or call for medical assistance.
Treatment for Sore Throat
Treatment from a doctor is often unnecessary for a sore throat, as it typically resolves on its own, typically within a few days to a week.
Several home remedies can help alleviate your symptoms, including:
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers (use children's medication only for children with sore throats).
- Gargling with warm salt water (not suitable for children).
- Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids; cold fluids can provide pain relief.
- Resting your voice.
- Getting sufficient sleep and rest.
- Sucking on throat lozenges, hard candies, or even ice cubes (not recommended for children due to choking risk).
- Avoiding smoky environments and refraining from smoking.
- Use a humidifier in your home to maintain moist air.
An anaesthetic spray to numb the back of your throat can be obtained from a pharmacy.
Antibiotics will only be prescribed if a bacterial infection is the cause of your sore throat, and this decision is made at the doctor's discretion. Strep throat, for example, tends to be more painful and longer-lasting than a sore throat caused by a virus. Connect with one of our doctors at Mobi Doctor with the click of a button and receive the care you require.