You’re getting a scratchy feeling in the back of your throat. Maybe it’s painful when you swallow and your voice sounds a little hoarse. You know it’s a sore throat, but you have no idea what’s causing it.
Allergies, the common cold, tonsillitis — the list goes on. That’s why it can be tough to know if your sore throat needs immediate attention or if you can soothe it with a popsicle.
Sometimes a sore throat is a sign of a serious infection that needs medical care. Our team at SmartClinic Urgent Care believes that every patient should know when a sore throat warrants a trip to urgent care.
Common causes of a sore throat
Sore throats can occur for several reasons. It could be from allergies, air that’s too dry or cold, or pollutants. Here are some other common causes of a sore throat:
- Cold viruses
- Bacterial infections (strep throat)
- Acid reflux
- Muscle strain
Viral infections like the flu and colds are the more common causes of sore throats. If a cold is what’s causing your sore throat, you probably don’t need medical care.
But how do you know if your sore throat is from a cold and not strep? A cough, runny nose, sneezing, and red or watery eyes are the telltale signs of the common cold. And while many viral infections mimic the symptoms of strep throat, strep doesn’t cause coughing, so you can rest easy.
When a sore throat requires medical care
Sore throats can be painful and irritating, but they don’t always require medical care. There are some cases, however, when a sore throat needs medical attention, such as:
- A persistent sore throat that isn’t improving
- A fever of 101℉ or higher
- Swelling in your neck or face
- Pain that interferes with sleep, swallowing, or breathing
- White patches or pus on your tonsils
- Blood in your saliva
- A rash
- An earache
If you or a family member experiences any of these complications, visit us for treatment. Some of these complications may indicate a more serious infection or illness, like the flu or epiglottitis.
Epiglottitis is a type of throat infection that causes swelling and inflammation of the epiglottis at the back of your throat. It can narrow your airway and make it difficult to breathe and swallow. Epiglottitis is rare, but it’s serious and requires immediate medical attention.
Treatment for your sore throat
Treating a sore throat depends on the source. When you visit SmartClinic Urgent Care for a sore throat, we perform a physical to look for signs of infection and may take a throat swab. Our diagnostic tools can generate your results within minutes, so we can quickly start treatment.
If a viral infection is the culprit of your sore throat, it should start improving on its own within 5-7 days. Many people find that home remedies usually help ease their discomfort.
Try drinking soothing beverages such as tea and avoiding irritants like cigarette smoke. Ice chips, popsicles, and cough drops can help soothe irritation and ease the pain.
If your sore throat is due to a bacterial infection, like strep, we may provide antibiotics to get rid of the infection. We may recommend other medications to help treat your fever and ease pain.
A sore throat isn’t fun, so practice good hygiene with regular hand washing — especially if you have young children — and make healthy lifestyle choices for a stronger immune system.
If you or a family member experiences concerning symptoms of a sore throat, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Call our offices in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California, or walk in today. Telemedicine services are also available.