Sore throats are no fun. Does a sore throat automatically mean you have a throat infection? Will you receive antibiotics for a throat infection? What are some causes of sore throats?
Here’s what you need to know about sore throats and antibiotics for throat infections.
Causes of Sore Throats
90% of sore throats are due to viruses that cause the common cold, the flu, infectious mononucleosis (mono), measles, chickenpox, or mumps.
Sore throats can also be caused by:
- Bacterial infections like strep throat
- Dry air
- Irritants like chemicals or cigarette smoke
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
As you can see, infections don’t account for all sore throats, and since most sore throats are caused by viruses, you typically won’t receive antibiotics for a throat infection unless you have strep throat. Antibiotics will not cure a sore throat that is caused by anything but a bacteria.
Throat Infection Symptoms
A throat that is infected may feel:
Other throat infection symptoms include:
- Pain or difficulty swallowing or talking
- Red throat or tonsils
- White patches or pus on the tonsils (usually seen in strep throat)
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Hoarse voice
- Body aches
- Appetite loss
Book on our free mobile app or website.
Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.
See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.
Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.
When to See a Doctor for a Throat Infection
Since many sore throats are just a symptom of a virus like a cold or the flu, which should clear up by itself, you don’t need to run to the doctor as soon as your throat feels scratchy.
If you experience any of these symptoms, though, it’s time to contact a doctor:
- Severe sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- It hurts to breathe or you’re experiencing shortness of breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sore joints
- A high fever (over 100° F)
- Skin rash
- Stiff or painful neck
- Blood in saliva or phlegm
- Sore throat lasts more than a week
- Dark urine, rash, or chest pain (may occur three to four weeks later)
Throat Infection Treatment
Treatment for a throat infection will depend on the cause of the infection. Viruses that cause a sore throat like a cold or the flu are typically left to run their course since antibiotics don’t kill viruses.
If your infection is caused by strep throat or another bacteria, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Things you can do at home to feel better include:
- Gargle with warm salt water
- Drink warm liquids such as herbal tea with honey to help soothe your throat
- Eat popsicles or ice cream to cool your throat
- Suck on a throat lozenge
- Drink cough syrup
- Use a cool mist humidifier
- Take over the counter medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to reduce pain
- Try a sore throat spray with a numbing antiseptic or a cooling ingredient
Antibiotics for Throat Infection
Since viruses cause about 90 percent of sore throats, antibiotics are rarely used. For bacterial throat infections such as strep throat, antibiotics may be prescribed. Amoxicillin and Penicillin are the two main antibiotics prescribed for throat infections.
Think you may have a throat infection? Book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor and get a prescription today.