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I have a sore throat… Should I go to the doctor or wait it out?

By: Amber White

One of the most common complaints we see at 45 Urgent Care is sore throat, especially now that schools are back in session and everyone wants to share their germs. Sometimes it means nothing really but other times it means something is going on and you should probably schedule a visit with the doctor.

There are many causes of a sore throat in kids and adults. Viruses, bacteria, sinus drainage, and allergies can all cause a sore throat.

A sore throat is not your main problem. A sore throat is only a symptom of what is really going on with you. The doctor must identify the cause in order to really know what we need to do to get you feeling much better. For example, a sore throat, often accompanied by fever and possibly headache, stomach ache or rash, may indicate strep throat. Which needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Viruses cause many sore throats in both adults and children. A runny nose, cough and hoarseness are more typical of viral infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections. However, the doctor may suggest over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen and cough drops to manage the pain.

Certainly if you suspect that you or your child has strep, it’s worth visiting us. The most common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden onset of severely sore, red throat
  • Painful swallowing
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Pus on tonsils; very red throat
  • Red, sandpaper-like rash (sometimes it can look like a strawberry)

We can swab your throat and do a rapid strep test in the office.

If your test for strep turns out positive, we will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. Sometimes even if the test comes back as a negative but the doctor feels sure you are in the early stages of strep we may go ahead and treat you for it anyways.

People with strep throat can spread the strep bacteria to others until they’ve taken the prescribed antibiotics for 24 hours. Don’t return to work, or allow your child to return to school, until after the 24-hour period has passed. To lessen the chances of an infection spreading to others we also recommend replacing toothbrushes and thoroughly washing any cups, dishes or silverware people used when they were sick.