Isn’t a sore throat the worst? It hurts to talk, eat, drink, breathe – live! It’s possible that you have a throat infection that would require antibiotics, but most sore throats are caused by a virus and just need to run their course.
I feel your pain but I promise it will get better as the virus goes away and you get a little sore throat treatment.
Let’s cover the basics of sore throat:
There are three types of sore throat. Each type is classified by which part of the throat is inflamed and where you’re feeling the pain.
There are multiple things that could be causing your raw sore throat – the number one thing being a viral infection. Typically we’re talking about the cold or the flu here, but it could also include croup, mono, or COVID-19, to name a few. These do not need treatment and simply have to run their course.
Less often, a bacterial infection could be the culprit of your sore throat feeling. The most common is group A streptococcus, which is what causes strep throat. Be in touch with your doctor if you are concerned you may have a bacterial throat infection, because your doctor has to diagnose strep throat after doing a throat culture and it does require antibiotics.
In addition to viral vs bacterial, a sore throat could be caused by allergies, irritants such as chemicals or smoke, acid reflux, dry air – especially if you notice it first thing in the morning and you’re a mouth-breather (try a humidifier!) – or other things that we aren’t going to stress ourselves out with here. Knowledge is power but too much of it can make us worry, so focus on your current symptoms and just talk with your doctor if you think something beyond the common cold is going on.
Things you are likely feeling: scratchy throat, swollen throat, sore throat with or without a fever, sore throat and a cough. It is painful and hurts to swallow. Your voice may be hoarse, you might notice the lymph nodes on the sides of your neck/jaw are swollen, and your throat and tonsils are likely red or inflamed. You may even see white patches on the back of your throat. A lot of the accompanying symptoms are caused by the virus, including:
Remember, if this is a virus, antibiotics for a sore throat aren’t needed. If you’re worried it could be something more (like the dreaded Strep Throat), see the signs below on when to call the doc!
Remember, we’ve got info to help you with ANY symptom! So use your Kinsa app to share more symptoms with me – that’s what I’m here for and nothing makes me happier than helping people feel better!
Along with a virus, a sore throat could be caused by allergies, irritants such as chemicals or smoke, acid reflux, dry air – especially if you notice it first thing in the morning and you’re a mouth-breather (try the humidifier!) – or other things that we aren’t going to stress ourselves out with here. Knowledge is power but too much of it can make us worry, so focus on your current symptoms and just talk with your doctor if you think something more is going on.
Since most sore throats are caused by a virus it remains vital that you always wash your hands, tell those around you to wash their hands, and disinfect the daylights out of your environment. Keep this misery to one person in the household and just hang in there. 24-48 hours should be the worst of it, then hopefully you’ll be on the mend through the rest of the week. I’ll join you with a bowl of ice cream for solidarity’s sake.
Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 11 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.