Sore Throat

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View The Anatomy of a Sore Throat Slideshow

Quick GuideCommon Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

Common Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

What are the signs and symptoms of a sore throat?

The signs and symptoms of a sore throat vary depending on the underlying cause. However, the common symptom shared by individuals with a sore throat is the feeling of throat pain and discomfort, which is often worsened by swallowing or talking. Some people may complain of a scratchy or dry sensation in their throat as well.

Because most cases of sore throat are caused by an infection, individuals may commonly experience any of the additional following signs and symptoms:

Distinguishing between a sore throat caused by a virus and strep throat can be challenging, but there are certain features that can often help differentiate them. Generally speaking, individuals with strep throat will have red swollen tonsils with white patches (exudate), fever, and swollen tender lymph nodes in the neck WITHOUT the symptoms typically seen with a viral infection (a "cold") such as cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. However, this distinction is not always present, and therefore an evaluation with a health care professional may be necessary to accurately confirm the diagnosis. Only a throat culture (swab taken from the back of the throat) can definitively diagnose a strep throat.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015

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