Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Definition of a sore throat
- What is the difference between sore throat and strep throat?
- What are the causes of sore throat?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a sore throat?
- Is a sore throat contagious?
- When should I see a doctor for a sore throat?
- How is the diagnosis of sore throat made?
- What are home remedies to soothe a sore throat?
- What OTC medications will soothe a sore throat?
- Are antibiotics necessary for a sore throat?
- How can I prevent a sore throat?
- Pictures of The Anatomy of a Sore Throat - Slideshow
- Pictures of Natural Cold & Flu Remedies - Slideshow
- Pictures of The Common Cold - Slideshow
What are the signs and symptoms of a sore throat?
The signs and symptoms of a sore throat vary depending on the underlying cause. However, the common symptom shared by individuals with a sore throat is the feeling of throat pain and discomfort, which is often worsened by swallowing or talking. Some people may complain of a scratchy or dry sensation in their throat as well.
Because most cases of sore throat are caused by an infection, individuals may commonly experience any of the additional following signs and symptoms:
- Fever and/or chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Body aches
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Lack of appetite
- Redness and/or swelling of the tonsils and back of the throat
- White patchy areas on the tonsils (exudate)
- Swollen and/or tender lymph nodes in the neck
- A muffled or hoarse voice
Distinguishing between a sore throat caused by a virus and strep throat can be challenging, but there are certain features that can often help differentiate them. Generally speaking, individuals with strep throat will have red swollen tonsils with white patches (exudate), fever, and swollen tender lymph nodes in the neck WITHOUT the symptoms typically seen with a viral infection (a "cold") such as cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. However, this distinction is not always present, and therefore an evaluation with a health care professional may be necessary to accurately confirm the diagnosis. Only a throat culture (swab taken from the back of the throat) can definitively diagnose a strep throat.
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