This is one of the most commonly asked medical questions, and it can indeed be a bit confusing! Basically, sore throat
can be caused by a whole range of viruses as well as a few bacteria. Most cases of sore throat are caused by viruses, and these are typically not treated. Since the viruses that cause sore throat also cause the common cold, there are often other cold symptoms such as cough or runny nose. Viral sore throats will get better on their own, usually after a few days to a week. Getting lots of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and taking over the counter pain medicines are usually all that is required.
Sore throats caused by bacteria are different. The most common cause of a bacterial sore throat is infection with the strep bacteria, hence the name strep throat. Unlike viral sore throats, the pain is usually worse and there is not usually much in the way of other cold symptoms. Strep throat can be diagnosed by your doctor
with a physical examination and a simple office test. Please talk to your doctor. Good luck!