How to tell when it is more than a sore throat

How Serious Is Your Sore Throat?

A sore throat is a common complaint that can affect both adults and children. It may be a symptom of a cold or flu, a bacterial infection or caused by environmental irritants or muscle strain.1 Most sore throats will usually resolve on their own without complication, although it is important to know when to seek medical advice.

When should I see a doctor?

The following signs and symptoms should alert you to seek medical attention:2

  • Prolonged sore throat. If a sore throat persists longer than the five to seven day period of a cold or flu and is not associated with an avoidable allergy or irritation.2 In children, seek advice if sore throat symptoms do not improve after 48 hours or you are worried about signs or symptoms of dehydration.3
  • Whenever a sore throat feels severe
  • Frequently occurring sore throats
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Rash
  • Persistent fever
  • Hoarseness that lasts over two weeks
  • The presence of blood
  • Joint pain and/or earache
  • A lump in the neck

It is also important to consult a healthcare professional if you have any other questions or concerns about your own or your child’s associated symptoms.

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