We’ve all probably experienced a sore throat at one point or another in our lives. With the pandemic looming, small symptoms like a sore throat seem bigger than we previously might’ve thought. It’s important to know the signs to look for that could indicate a trip to the doctor’s office and when we should just take it easy at home.
Most of the time, a sore throat does not indicate something serious. It can be caused by a number of things, including viruses like the flu or colds, bacterial infections like strep throat, allergies, and more. Most commonly, post-nasal drainage from the common cold or allergies causes the sore throat that most of us feel. Chronic cough or acid reflux could also cause a sore throat. Some sore throats aren’t caused by sickness at all. Prolonged exposure to irritants like smoke, dry air, chemicals, pollen, or dust mites may also lead to a sore throat.
Now, just because most sore throats aren’t anything of concern doesn’t mean they couldn’t be accompanied by concerning symptoms. You should consult your doctor if your sore throat is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
• A fever of 100.4 or greater for more than two days
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Difficulty swallowing
• Trouble breathing
• Difficulty sleeping or eating
• Persistent body aches
If you are looking for relief, here are a few at-home remedies that may offer some help sooth a sore throat:
• Saltwater gargles
• Drink hot tea or warm broths
• Get plenty of rest
• Remove or reduce allergens in the home
• Use a humidifier or take a hot shower
• Don’t smoke
• Take over-the-counter medications such as lozenges, ibuprofen, or decongestants
Sore throats alone are typically not a strong enough indicator of serious illness to warrant staying home from work or school. However, each person should take their individual case into account, analyze any potential accompanying symptoms, and make that determination themselves. If you have a fever or have had close contact with someone with strep throat or the flu, it may be best to stay home. Even with these recommendations in mind, it’s important to seek a professional opinion if you feel your condition warrants a visit. You know your body best and what it needs.
There are a number of ways to prevent sore throats in the future. Make sure that you wash your hands and stay hydrated. With COVID-19, it’s important to wear your face masks while you are out in town and maintain the proper distance from others. The COVID-19 vaccine and Flu shot will also provide that extra layer of protection for your immune system.
“We are all trying to move forward, and if you do your part to take care of yourself, then you’re also doing your part to take care of others,” said Dr. Darany Toy of TPMG Patrick Henry Family Medicine. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent flu, colds, or other illness.
While sore throats might be common, they don’t have to impact your life. If you think your sore throat may be something more serious, don’t hesitate to reach out to a TPMG provider today.
About Darany Toy, DO
Darany Toy, DO, received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Kansas and her Doctor of Osteopathy from the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. She completed an internship and residency in Family Medicine at the Wesley Family Medicine Residency Program in Wichita, Kansas, where she served as Chief Resident.
Dr. Toy is board certified in Family Medicine and joined TPMG Patrick Henry Family Medicine in 2013.