What is a sore throat?
A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.
Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of sore throat might require more complex treatment.
What are the symptoms of a sore throat?
Symptoms of a sore throat can vary depending on the cause. Signs and symptoms might include:
Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat
Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking
Sore, swollen glands in your neck or jaw
Swollen, red tonsils
White patches or pus on your tonsils
Hoarse or muffled voice
Viral pharyngitis often goes away in five to seven days. If you have bacterial pharyngitis, you will feel better after you have taken antibiotics for two to three days. You must take your antibiotic even when you are feeling better. If you don’t take all of it, your sore throat could come back.
Sore throats caused by a bacterial infection—like strep throat or tonsillitis—can be severe. What you will have is a sore throat that starts quickly and can cause a whole lot of pain while swallowing. You may also have bad breath, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
Yes, pharyngitis (viral and bacterial) is contagious and can be transmitted from one person to another. Usually, mucus, nasal discharge and saliva can contain the viruses and/or bacteria that can cause sore throat . Consequently, even kissing can cause transfer of these organisms.
Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include: Throat pain that usually comes on quickly. Painful swallowing. Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.
In most cases, your sore throat will improve with at-home treatment. However, it’s time to see your doctor if a severe sore throat and a fever over 101 degrees lasts longer than one to two days; you have difficulty sleeping because your throat is blocked by swollen tonsils or adenoids; or a red rash appears.