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Sore Throat (cont.)

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.

  • Severe sore throat without much of a cough
  • Fever over 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Associated headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Another family member or close contact recently diagnosed with a strep throat

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.

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