As we move into the fall and winter seasons, it is not uncommon for us all to experience the occasional sore throat. When this happens, it can be difficult to determine whether this is a sore throat that needs medical attention or if we can treat it ourselves with at-home tricks and remedies. Being prepared and in the know about your body’s reactions is the first step towards feeling better, but there are some other things you should know before you’re caught feeling under the weather.
Causes of Sore Throats
There are many causes of a sore throat, from bacteria and viruses, to even some like environmental allergies and poorly humidified air. However, of the most common causes are viruses, which are estimated to be the cause of 50% of acute pharyngitis. It’s important to note that antibiotics do not help these viruses – they are only an acceptable point of treatment for bacterial illnesses, like Strep Throat.
Differentiating Between a Sore Throat and Strep Throat
Before heading straight to your local urgent care or doctor’s office, there are a few things that you can check off your list when deciding how to move forward with your sore throat.
In adults, Five Star Urgent Care looks for a combination of symptoms of Strep Throat, like:
-Enlarged glands in the neck
-White patches on tonsils
-Absence of cough
If an adult has two or more of these symptoms, a rapid strep test will be performed. In children ages 5-15, we look for slightly different signs:
-Temperature greater than 101
-Absence of cough or other viral symptoms like a runny nose
-Recent exposure to strep
-Red, swollen throat with or without white patches
-Tender, swollen lymph nodes
Among these signs, if you are experiencing the inability to swallow, are having trouble breathing, have a stiff or swollen neck, are excessively drooling or have swelling of the tongue, seek medical attention immediately.
Even though sore throats are uncomfortable and wholly inconvenient, there are some things that you can do to get relief on your own.
-Get adequate rest to allow your body’s immune system to function at its best and fight off any infections
-Avoid smoke and other irritants
-Avoid acidic food and beverages
-Cool or warm beverages
-Frozen desserts or ice
-Hard candies or lozenges (not under age 5)
-Gargling with warm salt water
-Take acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen
While we look ahead to the seasons that are known for illness, it’s important to always keep in mind some simple steps towards preventing, catching – and spreading – an infectious sore throat.
-Wash your hands as frequently as possible, especially after coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with someone else who is ill
-Have hand sanitizer available at work, in your car or in your purse for when you need it most
-Cough or sneeze into a tissue to cover your mouth
-If you have been diagnosed with Strep, stay home until you have completed 24 hours of antibiotics
When you are experiencing a sore throat that you feel may be Strep, there’s a Five Star Urgent Care nearby that’s ready to save the day. For more information, walk in or contact your local Five Star today.