Sore Throat

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Sore throat facts

  • Most sore throats are caused by viruses or mechanical causes (such as mouth breathing) and can be treated successfully at home.
  • Sore throat symptoms include pain, burning or scratching sensations at the back of the throat, pain when swallowing, and tenderness in the neck. Sore throat symptoms may be accompanied by:
  • Home remedies for sore throat include:
    • saltwater gargles,
    • sprays, lozenges, and
    • humidifiers.
    • Do not give lozenges to young children as they are a choking hazard.
  • Any sore throat that has a rapid onset and is associated with a fever or tenderness of the front of the neck may be serious and should be seen by a doctor.
  • Any sore throat that causes a person to have difficulty swallowing (not just pain with swallowing) or breathing should be seen by a health-care professional.
  • Seek medical care immediately for a sore throat if the affected individual is unable to take his or her medications, has heart palpitations, is are lightheaded, or the tongue or lips swell up.
  • Any sore throat that lasts for more than a week should be evaluated by a health-care professional.
  • If you are pregnant and your sore throat symptoms are severe or do not resolve in three days, seek medical attention.

Anatomy of a Sore Throat Pictures Slideshow: Distinguish Common Sore Throat From Strep

What is the difference between sore throat and strep throat?

Reader Stories

Sore throat is a generic term used to describe the symptom of discomfort and pain in the throat area. It does not specify the underlying cause.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils that causes a sore throat. It is important to note that not all cases of sore throat are necessarily strep throat. Strep throat is specifically caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, and there are characteristic signs and symptoms, as well as laboratory testing, that can assist in making this particular diagnosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015

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Sore Throat - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms of sore throat and how long did they last?
Sore Throat - Home Remedies Question: What home remedies were helpful with the symptoms of sore throat?
Sore Throat - OTC Remedies Question: What OTC remedies were helpful with the symptoms of sore throat?
Sore Throat - Antibiotics Question: What antibiotics were you prescribed for sore throat and why?
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Sore Throat - Strep Throat Question: Please share your experience with strep or sore throat.

Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep throat is a condition caused by a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics, and may cause symptoms such as:

  • Severe sore throat
  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes in the neck

Most sore throats are caused by viral illnesses and are not responsive to antibiotics, and may cause symptoms such as:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Runny nose