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When Should You Start Worrying About a Sore Throat?

Description:

Sore throat is the inflammation of the throat with pain and difficulty in swallowing. The medical term for sore throat is Pharyngitis. It is caused by both bacterial and viral infections. Viral infections are usually self limiting and managed symptomatically , but bacterial infection usually needs specific  treatment. Sore  Throat can also be non infective and caused by irritation due to smoke, dry air, tobacco, or heavy pollution.

Incubation Period:

The incubation period is the onset time between infection and the manifestation of symptoms of the infection in our body. The incubation period for bacterial and viral throat infection is 2- 5 days.

Symptoms of throat infection include:

  • Scratchy throat.
  • Very painful throat.
  • Difficulty in swallowing even water.
  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Swollen glands on both sides of neck
  • Reddish, irritable swollen tonsils
  • Running nose, fever, vomiting, headache and sneezing

These are some of the   symptoms, and sometimes, you may experience only one  and not all. If more than one symptom prolongs over  a week, then you must consult your physician.

Complications or Risk Factors:

If kids or adults find difficulty in swallowing and breathing, high fever, and have other symptoms, visiting the doctor is a must.

  1. Age: Sore throat is a common infection among all ages. But children between 3- 15 years are more prone to a throat infection. Mostly, they will have strep throat, the infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. There are many tests to confirm a strep infection, and kids need immediate attention.
  2. Allergies: Higher exposure to pollution, smoke, dust causes sore throat. Throat inflammation  due to allergies will take a longer period to cure.
  3. Sinus infection: Infections in the nose moves to the throat during sneezing and draining, leading to a throat infection. Nasal discharge may irritate the throat and create a tickling itch.
  4. Crowded regions: Bacterial and viral infection rate is high at excessively crowded places like hospitals, offices, schools, and airports. In a closed environment, there is a 40% increased risk of infection.
  5. Low Immunity: People with low immunity to diseases are more susceptible to a throat infection. Children between 3- 12 and elders with other complications require may bebmore vulnerable .

Treatment for Throat infection:

Bacterial and viral infections cause pharyngitis or throat infection.

  • Bacterial infections: Sore throat is the only symptom of bacterial infection. There will be no other common cold symptoms associated with bacterial infections. One may have a swollen and sore  throat with white patches or reddishness. Throat with streptococcus infection needs antibiotic treatment and the course needs to be completed, even if you feel better. Children with strep infection must complete the course; rarely,  it may lead to complications like kidney failure or rheumatic fever.
  • Viral infections: Sore throat due to viral infection , even with or without any treatment, reduces after 3 to 7 days. If fever is present along with a sore throat, paracetamol may be taken , after consulting your doctor. Sometimes flu, common cold, measles, gonorrhoea, chickenpox, Mononucleosis , and Croup may also lead to a painful throat.

Precautions of Throat infection

  • Wash your hands often with the right amount of water.
  • Make sure not to touch your face
  • Develop a healthy lifestyle to prevent infections.
  • Avoid sharing food and utensils to avoid transmission  of the virus from one person to another.

When to See Your Doctor?

Sore throat gets cured  within a week. If the symptoms are severe even after a week, then you should visit your doctor.

Symptoms like:

  •  High fever
  •  Joint pain
  •  Difficulty in swallowing the food
  •  Breathing difficulty
  •  Ear pain
  •  Rashes over the body
  •  Repeated throat infections
  •  Lump in the neck
  •  Hoarse voice even after ten days

Need medical attention.

Immediate attention should be given for the kids if they have breathing and swallowing difficulty.

FAQs of Throat Infections:

What kills a sore throat fast?

Gargling with salt water is a simple natural remedy to reduce the swelling of the throat tissues. It also kills unwanted bacteria in the throat.  Follow home remedies for a sore throat to reduce swelling and pain.

When should you visit a doctor for a sore throat?

Virus associated sore throat reduces within five days. If there are no cold symptoms along with a throat infection, you must visit your physician. Bacterial infections need antibiotic treatment. Your physician will treat you with antibiotics .

Why do I have a sore throat, but no other symptoms?

If you have a throat infection without other cold symptoms, then it may be a bacterial infection.

How to distinguish between viral and bacterial infection in the sore throat?

Sore throat without other cold symptoms may be  a bacterial infection. It requires antibiotic treatment. Viral infections cause painful throat with other symptoms like fever, cough, and flu. Throat infections due to allergies will last longer without any symptoms.Throat swabs can help in clinching diagnosis of a bacterial infection.

How long do sore throats last?

Sore throats last for three-five days in case of viral infection and more than ten days for bacterial infection

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Verified By Apollo Ent Specialist

The content is medically reviewed and verified by experienced and skilled ENT (Ear Nose Throat) Specialists for clinical accuracy.

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