ZocdocAnswersAre there different kinds of throat infections?

Question

Are there different kinds of throat infections?

Went to the doctor because I was having a throat problem and he said it was infection and just gave me some pills to help. He didn't say what it really was though. Are there different kinds of throat infections or are they all the same? Will it come back after the pills are gone?

Answer

It sounds like your physician may have been concerned about a bacterial infection in your throat. These can be treated with antibiotics and should not recur if you finish a complete course of antibiotics. There are many different bacteria that can infect the throat, and one of the most common is the Streptococcus bacteria that causes so-called 'strep throat.' However, in order to identify exactly what kind of bacteria may be causing a throat infection, a throat culture is required. Throat culture involves your doctor swabbing the back of your throat with a sterile swab and then using that to grow whatever bacteria may have been there. Without a throat culture, it is impossible to say what--if any--kind of bacteria may or may not have been responsible for your sore throat. In addition to bacteria, viruses can also cause a sore throat. The flu virus as well as the many viruses that cause the common cold can also cause a sore throat. There are ways of testing for these viruses, but they are not usually done on a routine outpatient basis and are instead used to identify infections in patients with cancer or other forms of immunosuppression. Unfortunately there are not medications to treat most viral infections so the symptoms have to go away on their own. If you have any questions or concerns or if your symptoms come back, the best thing to do is make another appointment with your physician. He or she can go over your history and exam and with a recurrent sore throat, he or she may also want to do a throat culture. Hopefully the medication you are taking will fix the problem!

This answer 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 or (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.