A sore throat is a pain 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.
Sore throats are usually caused by viruses (like cold or flu) or from smoking. Very occasionally they can be caused by bacteria.
Other possible causes are tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) or more rarely, trauma.
If it is a viral infection that causes you a sore throat, the throat usually feels better after a few days. If you have a sore throat for many days, the cause may be a bacterial infection.
When you have a sore throat, you feel pain in your throat or/and larynx. The mucous membranes, the tonsils, and sometimes the vocal cords, are reddened and swollen. If you have an inflammation in the vocal cords, you can lose your voice.
Depending on the cause of your sore throat, you may have additional symptoms. (With colds, you often have fever, cough, ear pain and a runny nose.)
- a painful throat, especially when swallowing
- a dry, scratchy throat
- redness in the back of the mouth
- bad breath
- a mild cough
- swollen neck glands
- nasal congestion
- hoarse voice
- trouble swallowing
- appetite loss
- cold symptoms (fever, congestion, body aches)
The symptoms are similar for children, but children can also get a temperature and appear less active.
Prevention and protection
To prevent a sore throat, stay away from people who are sick with an infectious illness like the flu or strep throat. Wash your hands frequently. Try to avoid spicy or acidic foods, and stay away from chemical fumes or smoke that could cause inflammation.
There are several prescription drugs that can relieve a sore throat.
Mouthwashes, sprays, and pills are both pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory and act locally in the mouth and throat. You will find them at pharmacies.
If your vocal cords are affected, you should rest your voice.
Whether your sore throat is due to viruses or bacteria, it usually heals itself after a few days and you rarely need any special treatment. If you have major problems, you should contact your doctor for an examination. If the examination and sample testing show that you have a bacterial infection, antibiotic treatment may sometimes be appropriate.
When to consult a doctor
Contact a doctor if you have a sore throat and difficulty breathing, or:
- if you have a sore throat for over a week
- if you have a sore throat with high fever
How APPOTEK can help
Appotek can help with sore throat. A doctor or nurse will make a diagnosis during the online consultation, then prescribe medicine if needed, or refer you for further treatment.