Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do I know if I have just a sore throat or something worse?"
Had a sore throat for a week now.How do I know if its something that will go away or if its strep or laryngitis or something?
Sorry to hear about your sore throat! If the symptoms persist or if you feel that they are worsening, then this is a reason to go see your primary care doctor. Also if you have fever, abdominal pain, severe headache, vomiting, or any other concerning symptoms then this is also a reason to have it checked out. Generally speaking, however, most sore throats are just from the common cold virus or another simple viral infection. These tend to get better on their own, although it may take more than a week for symptoms to go away completely. If you also had runny nose, cough or other cold symptoms then this is almost certainly just a virus and should get better. On the other hand, infections of the throat caused by the streptococcal bacteria ("strep throat") are important to pick up because if not treated they can cause problems down the road with the kidneys or heart. Strep throat pain tends to be much more severe than that from a common cold. Also, there is generally not any significant cough or runny nose, and the glands in the neck are more swollen. If you think you may have strep throat, you definitely should go see your primary care doctor as you may need antibiotics.
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