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When to Seek Treatment for a Sore Throat

person massaging their throat

Reviewed by: Amy Surdam

When winter hits, the common cold can creep up on you when you least expect it. It’s essential to have a plan when you or someone in your family gets sick. A sore throat can be one of the first signs of a mild cold that can be treated at home with natural remedies. Or it can be a symptom of a more serious illness that needs the attention of an experienced team of medical providers.

Learn the most common reasons for this symptom and ways to soothe a sore throat.

Common Reasons for a Sore Throat

No matter the cause, a sore throat is miserable. Whether you caught the common cold from a friend or weather changes left your immune system vulnerable to something else, the telltale signs of a sore throat are scratchiness or pain in the back of your mouth and throat, a hoarse voice or pain when swallowing or talking. 

The most common reasons for a sore throat include the following:

  • Strep infections.
  • Tonsillitis.
  • Acid reflux.
  • The common cold.
  • The flu.
  • Allergies.
  • COVID-19.
  • Mono.
man holding his sore throat

When to Go to Urgent Care for a Sore Throat

Sore throats are a relatively common symptom of various bacterial and viral infections that occur throughout the year. You can visit your physician for a strep or flu test to determine the best course of action to heal your sore throat as quickly as possible. In most cases, since a sore throat is one of the first symptoms of getting sick, it’s also one of the first to disappear after a few days.

Some instances can warrant a trip to urgent care, especially if your sore throat lasts more than a week. You should seek medical care for a sore throat immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing, breathing or opening your mouth.
  • High fever.
  • Pus on your tonsils.
  • Difficulty turning your head.
  • Severe pain that interferes with eating, talking or sleeping.
  • Blood in your saliva.
  • Sore throat lasting longer than a week.

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At-Home Remedies

You can try several home remedies to soothe a sore throat with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or fridge. Relief from a sore throat can come from something as simple as a warm drink. You can try any of the following at-home remedies for a sore throat to see which option works best for you:

  • Gargling with salt water.
  • Honey in tea or warm water.
  • Herbal tea, especially chamomile and peppermint.
  • Humidifiers.
  • Sleep.
  • Over-the-counter medications made for your symptoms.

Any of these methods can safely provide temporary relief from the pain of swallowing, eating or talking when you have a sore throat. However, if you don’t receive even temporary relief from these strategies or your symptoms worsen or continue more than a week, your sore throat could be caused by something more serious like tonsillitis or strep throat. Be sure to monitor your symptoms as you try these at-home remedies and seek medical attention if needed.

Effective Prevention Methods

While a sore throat can seem to come out of thin air, you can do several things to prevent illnesses that cause a sore throat and stay healthy throughout the year. Most prevention methods only take a few minutes of your day and work effectively to protect your immune system so it can continue fighting off infections year-round.

To avoid catching a cold and getting a sore throat, follow these prevention best  practices:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Get a good night’s sleep regularly.
  • Strengthen your immune system with nutritious foods and exercise.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses or utensils.
  • Clean your phone regularly.

Sore Throat Treatment FAQ

Your sore throat recovery time can fluctuate based on the illness causing it. If you are looking for the best way to alleviate the pain and discomfort in your throat, check the FAQ below to determine the best course of action.

1. Can I Go to Urgent Care for Tonsillitis?

If your tonsils are larger than usual and cause discomfort, make a trip to urgent care to receive a diagnosis and find the best treatments.

Tonsillitis can start as a sore throat and quickly develop into difficulty swallowing, eating and sometimes talking. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your local urgent care facility. Untreated, tonsillitis can develop into a peritonsillar abscess that can block the airways. A trusted medical provider can prescribe an antibiotic to relieve your symptoms.

2. Can I Go to Urgent Care for Strep Throat?

You can go to your local urgent care for a sore throat to get a strep test and find the best treatment options.

Strep throat and a sore throat may feel the same at first. However, if left untreated, strep infections can develop into other complications, including rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation. You should go to urgent care for strep throat as soon as you notice discomfort or pain swallowing so you can begin treatment as quickly as possible.

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3. What Is the Best Sore Throat Remedy?

The best sore throat remedy depends on what’s causing your sore throat. Everyone experiences these symptoms differently, which can impact their preferred treatment when they get sick. If you have a sore throat and want relief from the discomfort and pain, you can see how hot teas with honey, a good night’s sleep, a humidifier and other at-home remedies work for your symptoms.

If at-home remedies aren’t helping, your symptoms get worse or you have a sore throat for more than a week, it’s best to visit your medical provider or urgent care. They may prescribe antibiotics, antivirals or other medications to help treat your sore throat.

Seek Treatment From SouthStar Urgent Care

When a sore throat happens suddenly and you want relief as quickly as possible, SouthStar Urgent Care is here to help! Our team of health care providers prioritizes offering quick and convenient services so you can get back to your daily routine without a sore throat getting in the way.

Our 20 urgent care clinics around Louisiana make it easy to find a convenient location where you can seek quality care when you need it most. The friendly team members at SouthStar Urgent Care ensure your visit is comfortable while helping you get back on your feet in no time!

Get in line online today to visit one of our locations.

medical provider checking a patient's throat