You wake up one morning and your throat is sore. Not the kind of sore that comes from sleeping with your mouth open and goes away once you rehydrate.
No, you know this kind of pain. It means you’re sick. Sore throats often accompany a cold and can be very painful. They can accompany a sinus infection, or be part of a chronic allergy issue with postnasal drainage. Usually, the sore throat will go away within a couple of days without any problem.
But when is a sore throat a bigger problem? When it is strep. Strep throat is a more serious illness because left untreated you put your heart or your kidneys at great risk of very serious damage. No one wants to go running to the doctor every time you feel a little pain in the throat, so how can you tell the difference between a sore throat and strep throat?
Even a doctor can’t tell for sure just by looking at your throat that you have strep. But other signs and symptoms will alert you to the possibility that you’re dealing with strep. Not only do you have a sore throat, but you may have very swollen lymph nodes. You may have a temperature of over 101. Stomach pain, especially in children, indicate the involvement of lymph nodes in the abdomen are involved. Backaches and overall body aches are also signs of a more serious illness.
If you even suspect you may have strep, get to the doctor for a quick screen to see if you need to take antibiotics. Strep throat requires antibiotics in order to prevent further very serious illness. Normal sore throats don’t.
A diagnosis of strep will get you a prescription for antibiotics. You will be contagious for up to 24 hours after beginning your antibiotics, so take a day off work and practice good hygiene at home to prevent the spread to other family members. And take ALL your medication. Never save any for “next time” because you may not kill the bacteria causing the strep and will need to go on an even stronger antibiotic when it returns.
If you don’t have strep, your doctor will send you home with the advice to rest until you feel better. But, alas, no magic pills. Time and rest are all it will take.
Taking care of a sore throat typically requires at-home palliative care designed to make you feel better. Once you’ve been screened for strep, it’s time to take care of yourself to feel better.
Grandma’s remedy of gargling with salt water is a good one because it can help to reduce the scratchiness and sensitivity of the throat. Mix just a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water and gargle. Do this as often as necessary to reduce your discomfort.
Use humidifiers, taking warm showers or baths also help to keep the throat from drying out. Warm soothing herbal teas with honey are also an excellent way to reduce pain from a sore throat.
Lizard Throat Sac by Tammy Sue