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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Sore Throats

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Sore Throat

Symptoms of a Sore Throat

If your throat hurts or just feels super uncomfortable when swallowing, you may have a sore throat or what docs call “pharyngitis.”

Symptoms associated with sore throats include:

  • Burning or itching when swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Mild fever
  • Nasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Tiredness

Causes of a Sore Throat

Viral infections and bacterial infections are the two primary causes of sore throats. Colds, which are a viral infection, can manifest into a nasty sore throat and partner up with other familiar symptoms (fever, coughing, sneezing, and so on). Viral infections tend to clear up in a matter of days without medication.

However, your sore throat could indicate a more serious bacterial infection. Heard of strep throat (streptococcal bacteria)? Not fun.

Luckily, we test for strep on site at all of our Portland, Seattle, Salem, and Vancouver neighborhood clinics.

Should I Be Worried?

Typically, no.

But don’t wait it out if your temperature spikes above 101°F: that’s one of the key signs you’re infected with strep.

Even if you’re strep-free, a high fever might mean a really bad flu or mononucleosis (a.k.a., mono, a.k.a. the kissing disease). However, our doctors should determine the underlying cause of your illness. That’s because certain conditions can be triggered by strep throat, such as rheumatic heart disease or kidney disease.

The following can also increase the chance your sore throat is actually strep throat instead of a viral infection:

  • Under the age of 14
  • Swollen and/or seeping tonsils
  • Swollen or tender neck lymph nodes
  • Lack of a cough

Also, no one likes getting sick from their coworkers. Strep throat is contagious for up to three weeks. So if you think you have strep throat, 1: stop sharing drinks; and 2: don’t put off an examination.

Other worrisome strep symptoms to watch out for:

  • Swollen lymph nodes or tonsils
  • Bright-red throat
  • White or yellow throat spots

Schedule a sore throat visit online or from our iOS app today.

Find a neighborhood ZOOM+Care clinic near you in Portland, Seattle, Salem, or Vancouver.

Additional DIY Articles

Sinus Infection; UTI; Ear Infection; Cough; Cold; Bladder Infection; Flu; Rash; STI; Stomach Pain; Earwax Buildup; Bronchitis; Foot Pain; Yeast Infection; Strep Throat; Eye Infection; Fever; Back Pain; Asthma; Neck Pain; Allergies; Insect Bites and Stings; Headache; Diarrhea; Anxiety

Sore Throat Prevention Tips

Consider these tips to help prevent a sore throat:

  • Maintain your distance. We may love our coworkers, but keep close interactions to a minimum when they're sick.

  • Keep your hands clean. Mom was right: always wash your hands before a meal, after going to the bathroom (duh), and definitely if you sneeze into them.

  • Use tissues. Rather than sneezing or coughing into your hands, why not use a tissue?

  • Sharing isn't always caring. You might be dying to share that tasty bánh mì with your fellow foodies, but that's one way to expose yourself to sickness.