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
Is a sore throat contagious?
A sore throat may be contagious, depending on the underlying cause. For practical purposes, because infection causes the majority of cases of sore throat, under these circumstances a sore throat can be contagious. Whether the sore throat is caused by a viral infection (the most common cause) or strep throat, measures should be taken to prevent the transmission of the infectious causative agent. In the majority of cases, these types of infection are transmitted person-to-person via saliva or nasal secretions commonly spread in airborne respiratory droplets, or through direct contact with infected objects (for example, cups or utensils) and infected surfaces. Frequent hand washing , covering your mouth when coughing, and not sharing utensils and cups are important ways to stop transmission.
When should I see a doctor for a sore throat?
Sore throat is a common symptom, and the decision to seek medical care can sometimes be difficult. Though many individuals with a sore throat will have a viral illness that will typically run its course and resolve without problems, there are certain causes of sore throat that may require treatment beyond expectant management and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Therefore, strong consideration should be made to visit your health care professional for an evaluation.
Individuals with a sore throat and the following signs or symptoms should immediately visit their doctor or the nearest emergency department:
- Severe sore throat
- Difficulty or inability to swallow saliva or liquids
- Difficulty or inability to open your mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe neck pain or neck stiffness
- Redness or swelling of the neck
- Bleeding from the throat, or blood in your saliva/phlegm
- Fever > 101 F (38.3 C)
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