What are the causes of a sore throat?
You may need to take antibiotics for a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection.
Sore throats are usually caused by viruses (such as cold or flu) or from smoking. Very occasionally they can be caused by bacteria. Sore throats are very commonly seen during winter or cold season when respiratory diseases are at their peak. There is usually nothing to worry about because they generally get better by themselves within a week.
The following infections may cause sore throat
- Tonsillitis (infection of the tonsils)
- Strep throat (a bacterial throat infection)
- Mononucleosis infection (glandular fever)
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
You may have a strep throat if you have
- A painful throat, especially while swallowing
- A dry, scratchy throat
- Redness in the back of the mouth
- Bad breath
- Mild cough
- Swollen neck glands
- Low-grade fever
When should you see a doctor?
You must see a doctor if you have
- A sore throat that does not improve after a week
- Frequent sore throats within the last four months
- Concerns about your condition
- Fever and feeling hot and shivering
- Weak immunity because of diabetes or chemotherapy
- High fever (more than 100°F)
- Ear pain
A severe or long-lasting sore throat could be strep throat, which is a bacterial throat infection. In this case, you must see a doctor.
You must visit an emergency if you have
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Stridor (high-pitched sound while you are breathing)
- Severe symptoms and worsening quickly
Just about any painful sore throat is caused by strep.
How can I relieve my strep throat?
To help soothe your sore throat and shorten the duration of suffering, you can
- Gargle with warm salty water three times (except children) to relieve discomfort and pain.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Get adequate rest.
- Eat cool and soft food to ease swallowing.
- Avoid smoking or smoky places.
- Use over-the-counter medicated lozenges or a throat spray.
- Use medicines to reduce your fever such as paracetamol. You should avoid using these medications in children without consulting your pediatrician.
Should I take antibiotics?
Most sore throats get better (cold or viral flu) in a week to 10 days.
Doctors do not normally prescribe antibiotics for viral sore throats because they will not help relieve your symptoms or speed up the recovery process.
Your doctor may advise and prescribe antibiotics for you when
- They diagnose you with a bacterial infection or after your throat examination and throat swab test.
- You have pus formation in the tonsils.
You must complete the course if your doctor has advised you to take an antibiotic. This will avoid further complications such as the recurrence of an infection and the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
If your sore throat is caused by allergies, your doctor may prescribe medicines to treat them. If you have glandular fever (mononucleosis), it may last for more than four weeks and can be cured with plenty of rest.
Antibiotics won’t help you if you have viral infections. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines for you in serious cases.
You should avoid taking antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription/advice.