A sore throat is a common symptom associated with many different viral infections. This can make it difficult to distinguish which illness is causing your throat to ache. Here, Dr. Jen Tan takes a look at what other symptoms normally accompany a sore throat, and how they can often indicate which illness you are suffering from.
Often a sore throat is an indication of a looming cold. If this is the case, your sore throat will probably disappear after a couple of days to be replaced with other symptoms of the common cold such as a blocked nose or a fever.
A sore throat can also occur once other symptoms of a cold have been established. This is because your body is producing extra mucus during your cold, and excess mucus can irritate your throat.
Often a sore throat associated with a cold will be mild and will disappear within a few days. However there are some treatments which can help while the symptoms persist.
You will usually be able to tell if your sore throat is the result of flu or influenza if you are suffering from other symptoms of flu such as fever, weakness and headaches. Unlike a cold, a sore throat will probably not precede flu, but appear once other symptoms have been established.
If you have a blocked nose, you will be forced to breathe through your mouth which can dry out your throat and cause it to become painful. Also, if a cough develops, this can irritate your throat.
Often a sore throat associated with the flu will be the least of your worries, but the symptom can still be painful and irritating. While there are no specific cures for this, there are some treatments which can relieve the symptoms of a sore throat.
It is not uncommon to develop a sore throat if you have been coughing a lot. This is because the action of coughing is harsh on the tissues of your throat.
Your throat will be able to withstand the first few coughs. After this, however, you will begin to notice your throat becoming sore as you start to damage the tissues. This will only get worse as you continue to cough. In this case, treating the cough will bring the most effective relief from your symptoms.
It is possible to also get a cough after a sore throat. This is the case when you have an infection of the upper respiratory tract such as croup or a strep throat. You will need to treat the infection to clear your sore throat and cough symptoms.
Other symptoms accompanying a sore throat can include:
Swollen glands in your neck
Burning in your throat
Hoarseness or loss of voice
Aching muscles or joints
While many of these symptoms overlap with the symptoms of a cold or flu, they may also be an indication of some other medical condition. Swollen tonsils may indicate that the infection has affected the lymph nodes at the back of the throat.
Hoarseness or loss of voice would suggest that the inflammation has reached the vocal cords or the larynx.
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On average, you will experience a sore throat 2 or 3 times a year but, if you are lucky, your immune system will be able to conquer the virus before it develops into a full blow episode of the common cold.