A sore throat (pharyngitis) is a common problem and it is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
Viruses can cause a sore throat and other upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Sore throat caused by a virus is not treated with antibiotics but instead may be treated with rest, pain medication, and other therapies aimed at relieving symptoms.
Strep throat is a particular kind of pharyngitis that is caused by a bacterium known as group A streptococcus (GAS). Strep throat is treated with a course of antibiotics.
Viral Pharyngitis – Most people with a sore throat have a virus.
Symptoms of a viral infection can include:
- A runny or congested nose
- Irritation or redness of the eyes
- Cough, hoarseness, or soreness in the roof of the mouth.
- Some viruses cause a fever
Influenza (flu) virus is a common cause of sore throat during the flu season. Antiviral medication is indicated if your symptoms started within 72 hours.
Strep Pharyngitis – Approximately 10% of adults with a sore throat have strep throat.
- Pain in the throat
- Fever (temperature greater than 100.4ºF)
- Enlarged lymph glands in the neck
- White patches of pus on the side or back of the throat
- No cough, runny nose or irritation/redness of the eyes.
When to seek urgent help:
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rash
- Drooling because you cannot swallow
- Swelling of the neck or tongue
- Stiff neck or difficulty opening the mouth
- Underlying chronic illness/medication that may impair your immune system.
At Statcare Urgent Medical Care, we can diagnose your streptococcal throat infection by a rapid strep test, which takes less than 5 minutes to yield a result. We also have an in-house rapid flu test available to diagnose influenza, if indicated.