There are many things that can cause a sore throat – strep throat, tonsillitis, a cold, drainage from allergies, etc. So what do you do when you have a sore throat? Do you go to the doctor? Do you drink hot tea with honey? How do you determine what’s causing your sore throat?

Normally when people come down with a cold (virus or bacteria) it begins with a sore throat. Other symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose begin a few days later. Cold symptoms also include cough, sneezing, sinus pain and pressure, headaches, fever, muscle aches. If you are suffering from a sore throat due to a viral cold, antibiotics will not help. However, there are some home remedies to relieve some of the pain. Drink hot tea with honey to sooth throat pain, and try to gargle with warm salt water. There are also a few over-the-counter cold medications that can help. If you are on certain medications, check with a pharmacist for what is best to take. Throat lozenges should also help (especially those with honey in them). Continue to stay hydrated with lots of fluids, and don’t ware yourself out. Try to rest as much as you can while sick.

Strep throat (streptococcus) can also lead to a sore throat and/or tonsillitis (swelling of the tonsils). When someone has strep throat multiple times in a certain time frame, a doctor will typically recommend a tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils). Strep throat can be treated with antibiotics, but it is more painful than a sore throat caused by a cold. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, diminished appetite, swelling in the lymph nodes in your neck, and white spots on the back of your throat. It’s important to get strep throat treated so that additional health problems do not occur. Your doctor can run a rapid strep test that will determine if you have it. From there they will prescribe antibiotics and recommend any over-the-counter medication to ease the symptoms. If you are not feeling better after the course of antibiotics, or your symptoms worsen, contact your physician.

Tonsillitis can also cause sore throats. When the tonsils become inflamed, they cause fever, sore throat, bad breath, swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, loss of voice, and it makes it difficult to swallow. If your tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, then your physician can prescribe antibiotics. If it is viral, then you can try the home remedies that are recommended for a cold; as well as setting up a vaporizer and humidifier, and eating soft foods that won’t irritate your throat.

Sore throats can also be caused by allergies, irritants (such as smoke or pollutants) or dry climates. This type of sore throat can be treated by taking antihistamines and using nose sprays. Other symptoms from this sore throat include dry, itchy or watery eyes.

During cold and flu season so many virus and bacteria are spread around. This happens at school, work, nursing homes, etc. This makes it very easy to catch colds and be under the weather. The important tips to stay healthy are getting a flu shot and continuing your daily schedule of nasal washes, medications, etc. If you do feel any of these sore throat symptoms, contact your physician. It is better to get it looked at early on than to suffer and have your symptoms get worse. You can live a healthy life during cold and flu season!