The doctor will conduct a physical examination. Sore throats caused by viruses may look exactly like those caused by bacteria.
The doctor looks for these conditions:
Signs of infection (redness, discharge, swollen lymph glands)
Abscess (a shift in one tonsil toward the center and a shift of the uvula away from the infected side)
Airway compromise (muffled speech, drooling, and inability to swallow)
The doctor may order diagnostic tests that will look for strep infection. In some cases, the doctor may start antibiotic treatment without tests.
If the doctor performs a rapid diagnostic test with a swab specimen from the back of the throat, positive results for strep throat may be available during the office visit. However, it typically takes 24-48 hours to confirm rapid test results of a bacterial infection.
Rarely, other conditions such as diphtheria, a foreign body, or cancer may start with a sore throat. If an abscess or a more worrisome condition (cancer, diphtheria) appears to be present, the doctor may consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2014
Must Read Articles Related to Tonsillitis
A peritonsillar abscess forms in the tissues of the throat next to one of the tonsils. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected .....learn more >>
Sore throats are generally named for the anatomical site affected. The pharynx, tonsils, adenoids, larynx, and epiglottis. Sore throat treatment depends on the ...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tonsillitis: