A sore throat is a pretty common symptom of a variety of conditions. Allergies, dry air, and even pollution can all cause your throat to become scratchy, irritated, and raw. How do you know if your sore throat is something serious? Is your sore throat caused by a common cold, or could it be strep throat or tonsillitis? The truth is that you can only get an accurate diagnosis by a physician, but it may help to know the differences between all the possible causes and how your doctor might conclude what is ailing you.
Sore Throats with Colds
When you catch a cold, a sore throat is often one of the first symptoms to manifest. The common cold is caused by a virus and your sore throat will often be followed by a variety of other symptoms, including:
- Runny Nose
- Mild body aches
There is no cure or vaccine for the common cold. It is often treated by relieving the symptoms. A sore throat due to the cold can be relieved in many ways, including over-the-counter pain relievers, gargling with salt water, drinking warm beverages, and resting.
Sore Throats Due to Strep Throat
Unlike a sore throat due to a cold, a sore throat due to strep throat is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus. People can become infected with strep throat by being exposed to someone who has the condition’s nasal secretions or saliva. It is more common in children ages 5-15, but an adult can come down with it.
The sore throat that is associated with strep throat often comes on suddenly. Other symptoms that are associated with strep throat include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Pain When Swallowing
- Reddish Tonsils with White Spots
If your doctor suspects that you have strep throat, they will perform a strep test to confirm. This will involve a painless swabbing of the back of your throat. Should you be confirmed to have strep throat, your doctor will treat it with antibiotics. Anyone diagnosed with strep throat should stay home for 24 hours after starting treatment.
Sore Throats Caused by Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is caused by a bacterium, or a virus, and results in your tonsils becoming inflamed. When your tonsils are infected, it can cause a sore throat is quite painful. Often, tonsillitis will show up with some of the same symptoms as a common cold, like nasal congestion or a runny nose. Some other symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Voice Change Due to Tonsil Swelling
- Bad Breath
- Swollen Lymph Glands in Your Neck
- Pain When Swallowing
- White or Yellow Spots on the Tonsils
Treatment of tonsillitis varies depending on whether the cause is bacterial or viral. Frequent bouts of tonsillitis may lead to your doctor recommending a tonsillectomy.
Schedule Your Appointment
Many of these conditions have overlapping symptoms, so it is often hard to tell why your throat is inflamed. This is why it is important to see the experts. Associates of Otolaryngology, with three locations in Denver, Lone Tree, and Castle Rock, CO, are the experts when it comes to your ear, nose, and throat. We offer a variety of services to assist folks, from sinus and allergy relief to sleep health. Fill out our online contact form today to take the first steps in finding relief from the conditions that ail you.