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Signs Your Sore Throat Needs a Doctor's Care

If you or a loved one has a sore throat, how do you decide whether you need to make a doctor’s appointment? You don’t like missing work and don’t want your child to miss school, but if you’re contagious, it’s better to stay home and seek treatment. Our team at More MD physicians sees patients with sore throats every day. We diagnose the cause and prescribe treatment to make you feel better. 

Causes of sore throats 

Sore throats can occur for a variety of reasons. 

Sore throats from environmental factors 

Some sore throats may not be caused by being sick. Particles in the air from air pollution or fires can cause a sore throat. Fires in the western part of the United States have caused people to wear masks when going outside to protect their airways. Specks of burning building materials and noxious gases can cause a sore throat and other symptoms. 

Smoking can also cause a sore throat. Cigarettes produce 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. Children and the elderly are particularly affected by pollution and smoke in the air. 

Low humidity in the air can cause a sore throat. Cold air is drier than warm air. Many people run space heaters in the winter in addition to forced air heating in the home, which compounds the problem of dry air.  

Allergies can cause sore throats as well. Sinus congestion drains down to your throat and can result in a scratchy, itchy throat. 

Sore throats from illness or a chronic condition

How do you know when to contact the doctor about a sore throat from an illness? 

The common cold and other viruses

If you have a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing fits, and/or a sore throat, you likely have a version of the common cold. Resting and taking over-the-counter medications for relief of drainage or congestion usually clears up your symptoms. Colds last about three days. 

Antibiotics won’t help heal the cold virus or another viral infection that can cause a sore throat. These viruses simply have to run their course. 

Bacterial infections 

On the other hand, a sore throat can come from a bacterial infection, in which case you likely need an antibiotic. If you have any of the following symptoms with your sore throat, it’s time to go to the doctor: 

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection in children, but adults can get it also. It’s very contagious and spreads through the air when you cough or sneeze. 

Your More MD physician administers a strep test by swabbing a sample from the back of your throat if he or she suspects a bacterial infection. You receive results right away in the office. If the test is negative, your physician may send the test to a lab for further investigation. If you have a bacterial throat infection, your More MD physician prescribes an antibiotic and may prescribe other helpful medications to ease other symptoms. 

Some children are prone to bacterial infections in their throat. Repeated infections may call for a tonsillectomy. Mononucleosis is another illness that can cause tonsillitis.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

You can also develop a sore throat, hoarseness, and a need to clear your throat from GERD, a condition that causes your stomach fluids to come back up into your throat, resulting in chronic irritation. Often, lifestyle changes can control GERD, but if they don’t, your doctor prescribes over-the-counter or prescription medication. 

Call or book an appointment online with one of our More MD physicians for expert primary care treatment. 

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