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When to Seek Treatment for a Sore Throat

man touching his throat in pain

Reviewed by: Amy Surdam

As the winter season quickly sweeps the nation, feeling symptoms of a cold can happen in the blink of an eye. Luckily, with a few preventive methods and at-home remedies at your fingertips, you can enjoy the months of chilly temperatures without getting a sore throat. This common first sign of a cold is no match for effective treatments and a trip to urgent care if needed.

Keep reading to learn ways to soothe a sore throat and when to go to urgent care for a sore throat.

Causes of a Sore Throat

Although a sore throat can seem to appear when we least expect it, these symptoms are usually a result of a contagious illness or seasonal reaction. During winter, we tend to pack into tight spaces in stores, public transport and other popular places to avoid the cold, making it easier for sicknesses to spread. Luckily, getting to know the common causes of a sore throat can make preventing this symptom easier.

Typical causes of a sore throat can include:

  • Acid reflux.
  • Allergies.
  • Bacterial sinus infections.
  • Breathing through your mouth.
  • Common cold.
  • COVID-19.
  • The flu.
  • Mono.
  • Irritants or overuse.
  • Strep throat.
  • Tonsillitis.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

Now that the causes of a sore throat are identifiable, preventing this common symptom year-round is much easier with effective methods. Since a sore throat typically comes from a contagious sickness or allergies, there are easy steps to take to avoid scratchiness and aches in the back of the mouth. 

The most effective ways to prevent a sore throat include:

  • Do not share eating utensils, straws or drinks with someone sick.
  • Minimize contact with those who are ill or might be contagious.
  • Wear a face mask if exposure to chemicals is regular in your daily routine.
  • Avoid smoking or being around someone who smokes regularly.
  • Wash your hands frequently for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep as often as possible to avoid fatigue and a weakened immune system.
  • Practice healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
  • Take allergy medication regularly if your doctor recommends it.

woman touching the lymph nodes in her neck

When You Should Go to Urgent Care for a Sore Throat

A sore throat can come and go quickly since it is typically the first sign of a cold. A few days of scratchiness is normal, and you should feel back to normal before you know it. However, when symptoms worsen or continue for multiple weeks, you should go to urgent care for your sore throat to see if there are treatment options to ease these side effects. The doctors can find out if there is a possibility of another cause for your sore throat and how to treat it effectively.

Make a visit to your local urgent care if you experience the following sore throat symptoms:

  • Rashes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in your spit or phlegm
  • Joint swelling or pain

What Is the Best Sore Throat Remedy?

At-home remedies for a sore throat can significantly decrease the symptoms of scratchiness and difficulty swallowing, so you can feel back to normal in no time! The best sore throat remedies are ones that you can find right in your pantry or quickly at a local grocery store. 

The following at-home remedies can offer you relief any time you need it:

  • Mixing lemon juice in a glass of warm water.
  • Humidifiers in areas around your home.
  • Raspberry, chamomile and peppermint teas.
  • Adding a few drops of hot sauce to warm water.
  • Stirring honey into your tea of water.
  • Gargling with salt water.

The types of food textures in your home can also help relieve a sore throat. Sticking with soft foods or liquids can help make it easier to swallow painlessly and ease the aching at the back of the mouth. Warm soups, yogurts and Jell-O are tasty and easy on the throat!

If these at-home remedies do not provide any relief or your symptoms continue to worsen, you should go to urgent care for a sore throat in case you have strep throat or tonsillitis.

Urgent Care Sore Throat FAQ

In some cases, a sore throat can be a sign of a more significant health complication, including tonsillitis and strep throat. These occurrences can cause more discomfort and pain in the throat and lead to more severe symptoms over time. Luckily, a trip to your local urgent care can assess these illnesses to provide the relief you need to get rid of your sore throat.

Look through the following urgent care strep throat and tonsillitis FAQs to see if you should go to urgent care for a sore throat.

Do I need to Go to the Doctor for Strep Throat?

Although a sore throat and strep throat can feel the same at first, strep throat can develop into a more serious health condition. If left untreated, strep throat can cause complications, such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever, causing rashes and painful joint movements.

If you think you have strep throat or your sore throat symptoms continue to worsen, you can go to urgent care for strep throat. If you have a positive result, the providers can find the best treatment options for you to feel back to your usual self again.

Can I Go to Urgent Care for Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis can feel like a sore throat, but upon further inspection, your tonsils are the cause for the discomfort you feel in the back of your mouth. Bacterial infections can cause the tonsils to become irritated and inflamed, making it challenging to swallow or talk painlessly.

If you notice that your tonsils are larger than usual and you have difficulty swallowing or breathing, make a visit to your local urgent care for a proper diagnosis. If tonsillitis is frequent enough, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the tonsils so you can avoid these sore throat symptoms in the future.

Soothe a Sore Throat at Coastal Urgent Care

There is no better way to treat a sore throat than a visit to Coastal Urgent Care! Our dedicated team of health care providers can provide the necessary tests to see if a strep throat or tonsillitis result may be causing your sore throat. The next step is finding you the best treatment options so you can feel relief as quickly as possible. 

Our five locations in Baton Rouge, Bossier, Gonzales, Haughton and Ruston are convenient for Louisiana locals looking for reliable and quick health care services — no appointment needed!

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

doctor looking at patient's throat