When to See a Doctor For a Sore Throat?

Even people who have incredibly strong immune systems will experience a sore throat from time to time. This is a common medical issue that will affect different people differently. However, for the most part, a sore throat isn’t necessarily a big cause for concern. That is why you may be unsure when to seek medical advice for a sore throat. 

The aftereffects of the COVID-19 global pandemic have left many people uncertain about when they should visit their doctor for medical advice. It can often be difficult to know what’s for the best, especially if you are wary of picking up any worse illnesses by visiting your doctor, or of spreading the illness that you are suffering from. 

Of all the medical issues that you may experience, a sore throat really is one of the most difficult to determine whether you need medical consultation, or not. It is always best to check with your doctor, but knowing some of the common causes of a sore throat can really help you determine if you need to visit a doctor, or not. 

Table of Contents

What Causes a Sore Throat?

There are tons of different things that can cause a sore throat. A lot of the time, a sore throat will be caused by one of three things: the common cold, the flu, or the coronavirus. All of these illnesses are viruses and a sore throat is listed as one of the symptoms for all of these common illnesses. 

However, just because a sore throat is often associated with a common cold or the flu. That doesn’t mean that your sore throat is always caused by one of these illnesses. There are a variety of different medical conditions that list a sore throat as a symptom, so you could easily be suffering with one of these conditions. That is why it is important not to self-diagnose, and to seek medical guidance when you are unwell. 

There are some very minor conditions that could cause a sore throat, and also some very serious health conditions that could cause a sore throat. They include: allergies, chickenpox, measles, mono, croup, strep throat, tumors, muscle strain, HIV, and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). 

So your sore throat could be caused by one of these illnesses, or it could simply be caused by dehydration, or dry air inside your home. The only way to know for definite what is causing your sore throat is to seek medical advice from your doctor. 

When to Seek Medical Advice for a Sore Throat?

Unless you speak to a professional, there really is no way of knowing for certain what the cause of your sore throat is. Typically, you do not need to visit the doctor immediately when your throat starts to become sore (unless you suspect it is connected to a known allergy that you have). Instead, you can wait a couple of days before visiting your doctor. 

As a sore throat is a symptom of a wide range of highly contagious illnesses, it is best not to visit the doctor immediately. Unless you have massive concerns about your health in relation to your sore throat, you should try to wait it out at home for a couple of days. Keep yourself hydrated by ensuring that you drink plenty of water, and rest up. A lot of the time, a sore throat will fix itself within a couple of days. 

If you are experiencing symptoms other than a sore throat simultaneously with your sore throat, then you should seek medical advice earlier. Especially if any of these symptoms include the following:

  • A lump in your neck. 
  • Joint pain.
  • Ear ache. 
  • Shortness of breath. 
  • A high fever. 
  • Difficulty swallowing. 
  • Facial swelling.

If you are not experiencing any of these other symptoms, but find that your sore throat is still persisting after a week of rest, relaxation, and lots of fluids, then it is also a good idea to seek medical advice. A lot of the time, a sore throat will be connected to a minor, common illness. However, it could be connected to an infection that requires antibiotics, or an illness that your doctor can help treat. 

Through a quick medical exam, and typically a throat swab, your doctor will be able to give you a diagnosis for most common illnesses. If they believe further investigations are needed, they will be able to send you in the right direction. So if you are concerned that your sore throat is connected to something worse than the common cold, then you should seek medical advice. 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

At DrHouse, we understand how worrying it can be when you are not feeling well. Especially if you cannot get an appointment with your doctor right away. That is why we offer quick and easy way to get connected with a doctor online.

DrHouse is an on-demand telehealth service that connects you with a doctor online in minutes. All of our doctors are highly experienced and trained in a wide range of medical specialties, and can provide quick diagnoses, personalized treatment plans, and even write online prescriptions if necessary.

Summary

It can be tricky to know when to seek medical advice about a sore throat. If your sore throat persists for more than a couple of days, or is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as a fever or shortness of breath, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Sources:

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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