GHS Cares: What to Know for Throat Issues
Many of us can remember being taken to the doctor’s office as a child for a throat infection. This is because throat infections are common and result in approximately 12 million doctors’ visits annually in the United States. Throat infections are more common in children and young adults but can happen at any age. The most common complaints with throat infections are throat pain and discomfort when swallowing. Other symptoms vary but can include cough, runny nose, fever and fatigue.
Fact #1 Most throat infections are caused by viruses. Strep throat is less common but important to diagnose and treat.
Although most people think of strep throat when their throat begins to hurt, throat infections can be caused by viruses and bacteria. In fact, viruses more commonly cause throat infections and are responsible for between 25-45 percent of all sore throats. When viruses cause sore throats, there are often other typical cough/cold symptoms, including runny nose and a cough prior to throat pain. Mononucleosis, better known as Mono, is one specific viral infection most often seen in teenagers and young adults that can sometimes first present itself with throat pain.
Strep throat, on the other hand, is a bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacterium. Interestingly, only 5-15 percent of sore throats in adults are caused by strep throat. Strep throat infections often cause a fever but no cough symptoms. Inflamed lymph nodes in the front of the neck are common with strep throat, also.
Fact #2 Strep throat is important to diagnose as it is treated with antibiotics in order to prevent rare but potentially serious complications.
Although strep throat is less common than viral throat infections, it is important to be evaluated by a provider if you are concerned you may have a throat infection. Diagnosis of strep throat is important for two reasons: It is treated with antibiotics, and if the diagnosis is missed, it’s possible to develop rare but occasionally serious complications from untreated strep throat.
There are several ways to diagnose strep throat. The first and probably most common way is with a rapid strep test swab. This test involves a swab of the back of the throat at a clinic and takes about 10 minutes to see results. This test is popular because it is quick and easy, but there is a second test for strep throat which involves swabbing the throat and culturing the swab over the course of 1-2 days to see if streptococcus bacteria grows. This culture is sometimes sent for testing if the rapid strep test is negative but the provider is worried the patient may have strep throat.
Fact #3 Even if you are not prescribed antibiotics, home remedies can work wonders for relief.
If your provider informs you your throat infection is viral and not strep throat, antibiotics will not be recommended. There are still things you can do to provide relief while recovering from the viral infection. Tylenol and/or an NSAID like Ibuprofen can help with the pain. Ask your provider which one is best for you. Alternating between warm soothing liquids, like tea and honey or soup, and cold treats like popsicles can also be very soothing. Rest and hydration are also key. If you are concerned that you or your loved one is becoming dehydrated due to not wanting to swallow, you will need to return to your provider for further evaluation.
The providers at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor are always happy to evaluate and care for patients with sore throats.
Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo are primary care physicians expanding community access to quality pediatric and family medicine at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, located at 1614 NC Highway 56, Butner. To schedule your primary care appointment, please call 919-575-6103 or schedule online at ghshospital.org. You can schedule a primary care appointment with a provider as far as 12 months in advance through online scheduling.
Have a health-related question for Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo? Please visit ghshospital.org/GHSCares to submit your question and receive an answer in a timely manner!