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Sore Throat? When Should You Seek Medical Care?

Although sore throats can be caused by a number of things, when you’re suffering with itchy, burning, can’t-even-sip-water pain, the reason doesn’t really matter. You simply want your sore throat to get treated, and you want it now.

With every grandma offering her own remedy, and the internet full of advice, it can be confusing to know what to do for sore throat treatment. Tough it out? Use sore throat medicine? Gargle salt water? See your health care provider?

The experts at GoHealth Urgent Care can provide some clarity. Here are answers to your top sore throat treatment questions:

What could be the cause of my sore throat?

A sore throat can be caused by a common cold, allergens, or bacterial infections (like strep throat). The most common causes, however, are flu and viral infections.

The important thing to know is that the cause often dictates the best type of sore throat treatment. Providers at GoHealth Urgent Care can help determine the underlying source of your sore throat and recommend treatment options.

Is a sore throat contagious?

Both viral and bacterial sore throats, like strep, are contagious. However, you can prevent transmission to others by washing your hands more often and not sharing cups and utensils.

Can I send my child to school with a sore throat?

If your child has a severe sore throat and a fever, then he or should be seen by a health care provider and kept home from school.

What if I have a fever?

A fever of more than 100.3 degrees could be a sign of a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. If you or your child has a fever, you should seek medical advice.

Should I get antibiotics for a sore throat?

If your sore throat is bacterial (like strep throat), your health care provider will likely prescribe antibiotics. However, if your sore throat is the result of a viral illness such as the common cold, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.

How do I know if I have strep throat?

Sign and symptoms of a sore throat can just as easily be the beginnings of something more serious: strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis) caused by strep bacteria. Strep throat is usually associated with moderate to severe sore throat, headache, and fever, without a cough or runny nose. Your health care provider can perform a test to determine if your sore throat is strep so you can get ahead of it and start feeling better sooner.

What if my sore throat is left untreated?

Strep throat, if left untreated, could lead to significant complications. If there is no improvement in your symptoms in a few days, see your health care provider.

How do I manage my symptoms at home prior to seeing a medical professional?

In most cases, your sore throat will improve with at-home sore throat remedies such as these:

  • Gargling with warm salt water

  • Using throat lozenges

  • Drinking plenty of fluids

  • Using a low-temperature air humidifier

  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen

If there is no improvement in your symptoms, see your healthcare provider.

When do I need to seek medical care?

You should see your healthcare provider or visit an urgent care clinic if any of these applies to you:

  • Your sore throat does not get better in a few days.

  • You develop a rash or joint pain.

  • Your symptoms worsen.

  • You have a fever of more than 101 degrees that lasts longer than one to two days.

  • You have difficulty swallowing liquids or trouble breathing because your throat is blocked by swollen tonsils or adenoids.

These symptoms could mean that you have a bacterial infection. If that’s the case, a doctor can prescribe an antibiotic.

Can I come to a GoHealth Urgent Care for a sore throat?

GoHealth Urgent Care healthcare providers are trained to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication as needed to treat your sore throat. No appointment is necessary, plus you can check in online.

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