A sore throat can disrupt your routine, and the irritated or scratchy feeling can worsen when swallowing, making a simple activity such as eating more challenging. When you have a sore throat, you simply want it to get treated as soon as possible.
Most sore throats exhibit mild symptoms, but severe cases can make breathing difficult. Typical causes of sore throats include allergens, a common cold, or bacterial infections like strep throat. However, the most common causes are flu and viral infections.
Always remember that the cause often dictates the best type of sore throat treatment. Usually, you can soothe the discomfort with home remedies until the sore throat goes away. However, sometimes you need medical attention.
What are some at-home remedies to treat a sore throat?
Typical at-home remedies that can improve your sore throat include:
- Gargling with warm saltwater
- Using a humidifier
- Throat lozenges
- Over-the-counter pain relievers and antihistamines
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Causes of a Sore Throat
Various factors and conditions can cause a sore throat.
Cold and the Flu
Colds and the flu are viral infections. Both illnesses cause a sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and generalized pain. However, only the flu presents with a fever and chills.
Since the cold and flu heavily tax your immune system, they can lead to secondary infections like strep throat.
Allergies occur when you have an overactive immune system that confuses usually harmless substances (allergens) like pollen, pet dander, and dust for germs and attacks them. As a defense mechanism, your immune system attacks pathogens such as cold-causing viruses when they enter your body. This response results in symptoms including a sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, and fever.
Excess mucus from your sinuses drips down the back of your nose and throat, causing pain, tickling, and scratching. Postnasal drip is the leading cause of allergy-induced sore throats. Other causes of post nasal drip include dry air, sinus medications, spicy foods, and weather changes.
Strep throat expresses itself using similar symptoms as the typical sore throat. However, with strep throat, the soreness is caused by streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat pain often feels like a sore throat caused by other illnesses, but it can cause serious complications.
Typical symptoms of strep throat include:
- A sore, red throat that can start abruptly
- Pain while swallowing
- Pus on the tonsils
- Fever and chills
- Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
If your urgent care provider determines that strep or other bacteria caused your sore throat, they’ll most likely prescribe antibiotics. However, if your sore throat results from a viral illness such as the flu or common cold, antibiotics won’t treat it.
If left untreated, strep throat could lead to significant complications. See your health care provider if the symptoms don’t improve in a few days.
What Is Urgent Care?
Sometimes, severe medical cases that require immediate attention overburden hospital emergency rooms. Other times, your primary care physician may not open their offices 24/7. In cases like these, urgent care centers are crucial.
They fill the gap between doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms by offering walk-in and easy access to quality healthcare for critical but not life-threatening emergencies.
When to Go to Urgent Care for Sore Throat Concerns
Sore throats can make you uncomfortable, but not all result from conditions that require immediate care. It’s usually fine to wait for your primary care provider when presenting with sore throat symptoms. However, can you go to urgent care for a sore throat?
The short answer is yes. Generally, you should seek urgent care clinics for a sore throat if you experience any of the following along with your sore throat:
- Pus on the tonsils
- Severe pain that interferes with eating, sleeping, or talking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen glands
- A high fever of over 101°F
- A severe sore throat that persists
- Symptoms worsen
- Extreme fatigue (especially in children)
- A fever that doesn’t respond to medication
Contact our urgent care doctors as soon as possible for an appointment if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you suspect a strep infection. For example, should the test come up positive for a bacterial infection, we’ll treat it with antibiotics. We can take a throat swab and note other symptoms to form a diagnosis for first-line treatment.
At the least, we can give you symptom relief medication to reduce discomfort until you can schedule a regular primary care appointment.
Additional Read- Should You Go to the Emergency Room or Seek Urgent Care Treatment?
Going To Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) for a Sore Throat
You should visit your primary care provider if you have a persistent sore throat. A lingering sore throat could point to a more severe issue. That’s why you should schedule an appointment with your PCP, as they can best assess you based on your medical history.
Your PCP can also evaluate, test, and provide a treatment plan for your sore throat.
Going To The Emergency Room (ER) For a Sore Throat
Sore throats accompanied by more severe symptoms warrant immediate medical care at an emergency room. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Significant swelling of the throat
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to open the mouth all the way
Immunocompromised individuals should also seek medical care at an emergency room for persistent sore throats. Those with conditions such as cancer, HIV, or a recent transplant must take extra care when they come down with cold symptoms, such as a sore throat, as these conditions could complicate matters.
As mentioned above, a sore throat can be painful and indicate more severe issues. If you’re looking for immediate treatment at potentially unusual hours, consider seeking sore throat treatment at an urgent care facility.
If you’re a resident or visitor on the island of Kauai and feeling under the weather because of a sore throat, visit our doctors at Poipu Mobile MD clinic. We offer walk-ins, online bookings for urgent care services, and house calls. Check out our website to learn more about how we can help you get relief or treat your sore throat.
Call or text us today at 808-652-7021