Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Is this a throat infection?"


I thought I just had a cold but now my throat is swelling up and I see white stuff around my tonsils I think. Also, a couple of times I have coughed there has been blood it in it. I'm getting a little nervous. Is it time to go see a doctor?


I will first say that it is definitely time for you to go see the doctor. Your symptoms could need treatment with antibiotics. Throat irritation and swelling with exudate (the white stuff you see) is usually caused by one of two different types of infections.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Primary care-doctors near you

The most common type is an infection with the bacteria streptococcus (a "strep throat" infection). The symptoms of strep throat are a sore throat, fever, and the lack of a cough. The second type of infection that causes a sore throat with white discharge around your tonsils is mononucleosis (also called "mono"). This is caused the virus EBV. EBV causes fever, sore throat, other symptoms of a cold, and fatigue. Neither of these conditions cause you to cough up blood. There are many different causes of coughing up blood, but in you this infection is the most likely cause. This symptom suggest that you may also have a bronchitis or pneumonia. Since your symptoms are complex, you will need to be examined by a doctor to get it all straightened out. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and examine your throat and chest. From there, you can get the appropriate treatment soon. Good luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.