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When Is Sore Throat Serious? Signs and Symptoms of a Serious Condition

Whether a side effect of the common cold or an allergy symptom, a sore throat is an ailment people regularly deal with. And, while it's usually not serious, it can still be painful and annoying. That's why getting the proper medical attention and care is essential.

If you're dealing with a sore throat, there's no reason to wait it out and hope it gets better on its own.

Why Does My Throat Hurt?

A viral infection, like flu or a cold, is the most common reason for a sore throat. But, there are other causes, including:

  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infections, such as strep throat
  • Dryness
  • Smoking

When to Come for Treatment

You should see a doctor if a fever accompanies your sore throat, or if you have swollen lymph nodes and difficulties swallowing. These could be signs of potentially serious conditions that require medical treatment.

Here are other symptoms that warrant a call to the doctor:

  • Blood in saliva or phlegm
  • Earache or jaw pain
  • Lump in the neck
  • Recurrent sore throats
  • Soreness that worsens over time
  • Sore throat with no other symptoms of a cold or allergies
  • Trouble breathing

Sore Throat Treatments Available

Depending on the severity of your sore throat, the doctor may recommend:

1. Home Treatments

Several home remedies can help ease the discomfort of a sore throat. These include:

  • Avoiding irritants, such as smoke and alcohol
  • Drinking warm liquids, such as herbal tea or chicken soup
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Resting your voice as much as possible
  • Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air

2. Medical Treatments

If the pain in your throat is caused by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. However, if a virus causes your sore throat, antibiotics won't help and may even do more harm than good.

Sometimes, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve symptoms.

Get Prompt Treatment for a Sore Throat

By understanding the different causes of sore throats, you can get the proper treatment and care you need. Visit one of UF Health’s three emergency and urgent care centers in Jacksonville, Fla., today to get prompt medical attention.