Sore Throat (cont.)
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Sore Throat Symptoms and Signs
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Signs of sore throat include the following:
Two-thirds of people with strep throat have only redness with no pus on the tonsils.
How long should a sore throat last?
The duration of a sore throat depends upon the cause. If the cause is a persistent irritation, like inhalation of cigarette smoke or other toxic substance, the sore throat can last as long as the exposure to the offending agent. Bacterial infections such as strep throat begin to improve once appropriate treatment with antibiotics is started. Viruses like the common cold typically produce a sore throat that lasts from several days to a week or more. The sore throat of infectious mononucleosis can last longer than that of the common cold.
When to Seek Medical Care
When to call the doctor
When these conditions point to the possibility of a bacterial infection, the affected person should see the doctor.
If the person seem to be dehydrated (dry mouth, sunken eyes, severe weakness, or decreased urine output), an urgent doctor's appointment is indicated. Symptoms of dehydration in adults may be different from symptoms of dehydration in children.
If the pain is not relieved by over-the-counter medicine, or if the person cannot sleep because of the pain, contact a health care professional.
When to go to the hospital
If swallowing hurts enough that drooling occurs, the affected person should go to a hospital's emergency department. Difficulty breathing from a sore throat can also be a symptom of a more serious illness. Significant dehydration associated with inability to drink fluids is often best treated at the hospital.
Because doctor's offices vary in their ability to treat serious conditions in the office or see people on an urgent basis, the person might want to call your doctor to get advice on whether he or she should come to the office or go to the emergency department. Keep in mind that urgent care centers are generally poorly equipped for treatment of serious conditions and may quickly send the patient in an ambulance to an emergency department.
Sore Throat Diagnosis
History and physical examination are the most important tools in diagnosis. When epiglottitis or occasionally croup is suspected, neck X-rays may be helpful. A blood count and antibody test may be helpful when mononucleosis is suspected to confirm the diagnosis.
A throat swab to check for a strep throat infection (strep throat is a common name for streptococcal pharyngitis) is useful in selected cases. The so-called "rapid strep" test is sometimes unreliable, however, so often a doctor prescribes antibiotics based on the history and examination alone. A throat culture is a more reliable test, but the results take 24 hours to return. Treatment with antibiotics can be either initiated on a delayed basis or discontinued if begun already based on this final result.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/16/2016
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Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) - Length Symptoms Lasted
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