ZocdocAnswersDoes a sore throat mean I have a cold?

Question

Does a sore throat mean I have a cold?

Do sore throats every happen by themselves?

Answer

Sore throats are a very common complaint that all of us will have to deal with at some point. They are so common because they have multiple causes. As you indicated in your question, one of the common causes is a cold, which is caused by families of viruses that all of us come into contact with at various points in our life. The common cold is marked by upper respiratory tract symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat, and stuffy head feeling. Just as the runny nose involved with these viruses can give you a sore throat (by irritating the throat due to the constant post-nasal drip falling onto the back of your mouth), other processes that cause a runny nose can do the same thing. This explains why people with allergies will also often complain of a sore throat, especially as they just wake up, after a night with upper airway secretions pooling in their upper airway. Finally, there are many other things that can give you a sore throat, including bacteria (strep throat, for example), and non-cold type viruses. If you are concerned about a sore throat, I advise that you speak with your primary care doctor to discuss the matter.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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