A sore throat is an inflammation of the throat caused by either
viruses or bacteria.
do you catch it?
The infection is spread by sharing drinks, kissing, sneezing, nose
blowing, and by contaminated objects passed from hand to mouth.
are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include:
- painful, red throat
- difficulty swallowing
- swollen tonsils
- feeling "blah"
- swollen lymph nodes ("glands")
can you do?
Whether the sore throat is due to a virus or bacteria, the following
will help to make you feel better:
FLUIDS: Clear liquids are most soothing and help to thin out the
mucus at the back of your throat. Cold sodas, popsicles and mild
(not citric) juices are often preferred although some people find
warmer liquids feel better.
SALT WATER GARGLES: These help to soothe and heal. Add 1/2 teaspoon
of table salt to 1 cup of warm tap water and gargle with this solution
at least four times a day.
LOZENGES: (look for ingredients that contain phenol or end in "-caine".)
These give temporary relief of pain.
GOOD HYGIENE: Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing,
and properly dispose of used facial tissues.
SMOKE: Smoking irritates and dries the mucous membranes that line
the nose and throat.
HEAT COMPRESSES (i.e. washcloths moistened with warm tap water)
applied to the neck help swollen glands feel better.
ASPIRIN (10 grains) or ACETAMINOPHEN (650 mg) every 4-6 hours for
fever and discomfort. Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties and
may be of more help in relieving pain from a swollen sore throat.
ANTIBIOTICS ONLY IF DIRECTED BY HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS. Antibiotics
are useful and often necessary in treating bacterial infections;
however, viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
health care personnel:
- If you have fever higher than 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C).
- If sore throat lasts more than 5 days.
- If you see pus on your tonsils.
- If you develop a sore throat after being in contact with someone
diagnosed as having strep throat.
- If sore throat seems severe and/or worsens quickly.
- If you have a sore throat with a previous diagnosis of rheumatic
heart disease, rheumatic fever or heart murmur.
- Anytime you are unsure of what to do.
culture can be taken by a Health Care Professional to determine
whether you have a viral or bacterial infection and if further medical
treatment is needed (results take 24-48 hours).
Note About Strep Throat
Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that affects the throat
and tonsils. It can only be diagnosed by throat culture. See "Consult
health care personnel" to determine when a culture is needed.
throat pain, like pain of sore throats caused by viruses, can be
relieved somewhat with measures mentioned. Antibiotics are not given
to relieve throat pain, but are given to prevent complications that
can occur in untreated strep infections. Complications include rheumatic
heart disease and glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney).
For this reason, if an antibiotic is prescribed it is very important
to take all of it as instructed.
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