Other Non Covid Medical Causes Of A Sore Throat: The Flu
The flu and COVID are both contagious viruses, although they are caused by different organisms. The flu is caused by influenza viruses while COVID-19 coronavirus is caused by a new strain of coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the new coronavirus strain. When comparing the two it is important note that COVID spreads more easily than the flu and causes more serious health infections in some individuals. Additionally, COVID may remain latent for longer than the flu, meaning individuals get infected and are contagious, but sometimes not yet showing symptoms. Individuals with the flu virus commonly show symptoms 1-4 days after infection, while individuals with coronavirus usually develop symptoms 2-14 days after initial infection. If you are unaware if your symptoms are caused by COVID or the flu, it is important that one take urgent care to quarantine away from people and get tested to reduce the risk of spread. Other prevalent health symptoms of the flu include:
- Body aches and muscle pain
- Congested or runny nose
What Are Symptoms Of Coronavirus
The most common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
Some of these symptoms are very common and can occur in many conditions other than COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus. If you have any of them, contact a doctor or health care provider so they can assess your risk and help you determine next steps.
About Author: Lisa Coon
Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016. A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, The beach is good for the soul.
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How Do I Know If My Sore Throat Is Related To Covid
It can be hard to determine what is causing a sore throat. A sore throat could be a symptom of lots of other illnesses, including allergies, strep throat, or other infections. The best way to know if your sore throat is related to COVID-19 is to be on the lookout for more common symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
Is It Just A Sore Throat Or A Symptom Of Covid
A sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is the swelling of the pharynx as a manifestation of an underlying medical condition or a temporary injury. It is more common in children, especially during winter when the humidity and temperatures are low, causing air to dry out the mucous membrane in your throat and cause irritation.
While sore throats are prevalent in viral respiratory diseases such as flu and the common cold, they can also result from bacterial infections and physical injury, as per the National Health Service. It is worth noting that a sore throat is one of the COVID-19 symptoms. However, you can have a sore throat without necessarily testing positive for COVID-19. Heres some more information on this topic.
How Common a Symptom is a Sore Throat for COVID-19 Patients?
You could be wondering, Is sore throat a COVID symptom? While a sore throat could be a symptom of COVID-19, its not enough to make the conclusion considering its not a common symptom. For instance, so far, only about 5% to 17.4% of COVID-19 patients have been found to have sore throats, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information .
Given this relatively lower figure, medical professionals should not use a sore throat as the basis for identifying potential COVID-19 patients. Even if you have a sore throat, there’s a good chance you’ll test negative for COVID-19.
When Could A Sore Throat Be Possibly Because of COVID-19?
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Can You Be Tested And Treated For Bacterial Pharyngitis
The most concerning cause of bacterial pharyngitis is Group A Strep. If a patient does test positive for this form of strep, antibiotics are imperative. Contrary to common belief, antibiotics arent necessary for the throat infection strep causes theyre given because if left untreated, Group A Strep can spread to other parts of the body and cause damage to vital organs, including the heart and kidneys.
To determine if a patients symptoms warrant a rapid strep test, clinicians use the Centor Criteria, a four-point scoring system that indicates the likelihood of a bacterial infection. The four criteria are 1) fever 2) exudate on the tonsils 3) swollen lymph nodes in the neck and 4) absence of a cough. If a patient meets these criteria, a strep test is warranted. If a patient does not meet these criteria, the likelihood of a bacterial infection is low, and a strep test is not indicated.
On average, rapid strep tests produce a result in less than 10 minutes, and theyre 95% accurate. If a rapid strep test is negative but the suspicion for a bacterial infection is high, a clinician can send a throat culture to the lab, which produces a result in a few days.
Are Throat Ulcers A Symptom Of Covid
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was first discovered in late 2019. As researchers have had more time to study it, theyve discovered more possible symptoms of COVID-19 including some reported instances of throat ulcers.
Keep reading to learn whether throat ulcers are a potential symptom of COVID-19 as well as what other conditions may cause them.
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Other Medical Causes Of A Sore Throat: The Common Cold
The common cold can be caused by several different viruses although the class of rhinoviruses are most common. Health symptoms of a cold commonly occur 2 – 3 days after an individual comes into contact with the virus. A cold is usually relatively harmless and the body’s immune system can fight the virus on its own although sometimes symptoms like Sore throat may last a couple of days. Children are particularly prone to spreading colds. As colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics from an urgent care medical group and pharmacy services do not aid in fighting the infection. A cold commonly only lasts a few days and does not have many unique symptoms of COVID and coronavirus such as shortness of breath and loss of smell or taste. The most prevalent health symptoms of the common cold are:
- Runny nose
Other Medical Causes Of A Sore Throat: Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is caused by inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils. Tonsils are located bilaterally in the back of the throat. Tonsillitis can be caused by both bacterial and viral infections although viral infections are more common. Tonsillitis can be self-limited, meaning treatment by a medical professional is not necessary. However, infections can also be severe and require medical treatment, such as the use of antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial Tonsillitis. If tonsils are repeatedly infected and cause difficulty swallowing a surgery in which the tonsils are removed, Tonsillectomy, may be necessary. Tonsillitis commonly resolves in a few weeks and does not have many unique symptoms of COVID such as shortness of breath and loss of smell or taste. The most common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
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When Should You Get Tested
“One of the biggest things is you want to avoid self-diagnosing. That means if you’re displaying any symptoms, you want to go ahead and get tested,” Torres said. And, again, you should assume you have COVID-19 until your test says otherwise.
When you get tested, depending on your symptoms and what your COVID-19 test results are, you might also get tested for the flu or strep throat.
The best home treatments for any of these illnesses depend on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing. Torres shared some advice about over-the-products that can help, but always check with your health care provider first.
- Fever and body aches: Use pain- and fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Congestion: For a stuffy nose, use an over-the-counter decongestant like guaifenesin .
- Fatigue: Make sure you stay hydrated, get enough electrolytes and rest up. “Sleep is one of your biggest aids you can use right now that lets your body recuperate and regenerate itself so it can protect you and it keeps your immune system strong,” Torres said.
- Difficulty breathing: If you experience any difficulty breathing or shortness of breath or if your symptoms get worse rather than improving, you should speak with a doctor, Torres said.
You Have A Metallic Taste In Your Mouth
If you’re experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth, it could point to another sore throat cause. According to Sheneen Lalani, DO, a board-certified internal medicine doctor working with COVID patients, this is typically present when you have gastroesophageal reflux disease .
The Mayo Clinic says GERD patients usually experience acid reflux at least twice a week, which can be aggravated by smoking, eating large meals, eating late at night, eating fatty or fried foods, drinking alcohol or coffee, and taking certain medications like aspirin. And for more up-to-date information, .
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How Can You Know If Your Sore Throat Is Due To Covid
Sore throat is a very common and non-specific symptom and will feel the same whether you have a cold, the flu, coronavirus, or even strep throat. That means if you experience one, it can be difficult to determine whether it is COVID-related based solely on the symptom alone. However, due to the low percentage of individuals with confirmed cases of the virus listing it as a symptom, it is more likely that it’s not COVID-related.
Sore throat can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, can be due to other inflammatory conditions like allergies, post-nasal drip, and even acid reflux, or can be due to something as simple as dryness or dehydration, Dr. Lerner points out. Overall, inflammation is the cause of throat soreness, due to local damage of the lining of the throat, says Dr. Lerner.
Stress can also be a contributing factor. Stress is known to aggravate all sorts of pain and this is also true with sore throat, says Dr. Lerner. Additionally, stress can lead people to habitually and aggressively clear their throats which traumatizes the area further. But, according to Dr. Lerner, you don’t have to be worried about your face mask giving you a sore throat unless you’re allergic to the mask or if it’s developed mold somehow.
Still, even if your sore throat is accompanied by other symptomsfever, headache, dry coughthe only way to truly know if your sore throat is due to COVID-19 is to get tested for the virus.
Strep Throat Vs Covid
Before getting into symptoms and treatment methods, it may help to explain exactly what strep throat and COVID-19 are. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. COVID-19, on the other hand, is a respiratory virus caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus . As youll see below, this distinction becomes important when determining how to treat each of these conditions.
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Antibiotics Get You Well Fast
Doctors treat strep throat with antibiotics. Either penicillin or amoxicillin are recommended as a first choice for people who are not allergic to penicillin. Doctors can use other antibiotics to treat strep throat in people who are allergic to penicillin.
Benefits of antibiotics include:
- Preventing the bacteria from spreading to others
- Preventing serious complications like rheumatic fever
Someone who tests positive for strep throat but has no symptoms usually does not need antibiotics. They are less likely to spread the bacteria to others and very unlikely to get complications. If a carrier gets a sore throat illness caused by a virus, the rapid strep test can be positive. In these cases it can be hard to know what is causing the sore throat. If someone keeps getting a sore throat after taking the right antibiotics, they may be a strep carrier and have a viral throat infection. Talk to a doctor if you think you or your child may be a strep carrier.
Strep Throat Symptoms Vs Covid
In addition to a sore throat, strep throat and COVID-19 can produce many of the same symptoms, including:
- Body aches
Each of these illnesses also produces its own unique set of symptoms, which is what you need to be on the lookout for to determine if you have strep throat, COVID-19, or something else. For example, if you notice any of the following, theres a good chance that you have strep throat rather than COVID-19:
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen red tonsils
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes at the front of the neck
- A rash
Conversely, if youre experiencing any of these symptoms, you might have COVID-19 and not strep throat:
- New loss of smell and/or taste
Another important distinction between strep throat and COVID-19 is how quickly symptoms appearthe throat soreness associated with strep throat tends to appear fairly suddenly, while COVID-19 symptoms seem to come on more gradually.
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What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Covid
COVID generally affects the lungs more than any other organ. Thats why some of the major symptoms of COVID include a cough, shortness of breath and a fever.
But, confusingly, every case of COVID seems different. It can include many of the same symptoms as the flu, or just some of them. Many people experience some combination of the following symptoms:
- runny nose
- sore throat
Additionally, one of the most unique symptoms of COVID can be the loss of taste and smell. Sometimes COVID also comes with gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
While COVID can cause a sore throat, its rare for this to be the first sign. Any illness that causes congestion or a runny nose can also cause a sore throat.
If I Get The Coronavirus Vaccine Will I Get Covid
No, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration cannot and will not give you COVID-19. The new coronavirus vaccines can cause side effects, since they activate your immune system, but this does not mean you are infected with the coronavirus or that you have COVID-19. As your immune system responds to the vaccine and learns to recognize and fight the coronavirus, fever, pain at the injection site and muscle aches are possible, but these are usually both mild and temporary. Learn more about the safety of the coronavirus vaccines.
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Suspect A Cold Dont Brush It Off
Have COVID-19 questions?
According to Brian Curtis, MD, vice president of Clinical Specialty Services for OSF HealthCare, a sore throat by itself is typically not something to worry about. Your throat could be irritated from allergies, air pollution or overuse. It could also be due to smoking, in which case the solution is simple . If a lone sore throat lingers longer than a week, however, you should contact your physician.
And if you develop any other symptoms even milder symptoms you typically associate with a common cold you should contact your physician or get tested for COVID-19. The common cold and the virus that causes COVID-19 are both the same type of virus called a coronavirus and can cause similar symptoms.
Mild cases of COVID-19 can even look to an average person exactly like a cold. But if you have a mild case of COVID-19, you could spread the coronavirus to someone who suffers a worse infection. You need to be sure you arent putting others at risk if you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms.
We have to be very vigilant with cold symptoms, Dr. Curtis said. We as a society used to be kind of dismissive of cold symptoms, but we cant be dismissive of them now. If you have just a sore throat with no other symptoms, its less likely to be COVID-19. But with other symptoms, it is possible you have COVID. Sore throat, cough, fever I would be worried about COVID.
Can You Be Tested And Treated For Viral Pharyngitis
If a patient does not meet the Centor Criteria for a strep test but does have symptoms that suggest a specific viral cause — including mono, influenza and COVID-19 — tests for those infections can be performed and the proper treatment plan will be discussed by a provider depending on the results. At home care such as rest, hydration, and soothing cough drops may be recommended if no other signs of infection are present.
An accurate diagnosis of pharyngitis is important because it identifies which patients will benefit from an antibiotic, and which patients will recover from pharyngitis without any intervention.
If you do develop a sore throat, its important to seek medical attention, especially if the pain gets worse or doesnt clear up within 48 hours, to receive an accurate diagnosis, and determine which treatment is best for you.
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If I Have Sore Throat Symptoms When Should I See My Doctor Or Visit An Urgent Care
Prior to COVID, little care was given to a simple Sore throat. However, with the COVID medical pandemic, a Sore throat may be indicative of an infection with Coronavirus and it is important to note and take care by finding the correct diagnosis. If you develop symptoms of COVID coronavirus the most important first step is to quarantine away from people and make sure not to infect other individuals with the virus which is detrimental to their health. In order to be diagnosed with COVID, you may have to see your medical care doctor, a local urgent care, the hospital or your local health department to find an area that is conducting testing. Even if the medical test is negative, take care and quarantine away from people for at least 10 days as this reduces the risk of spread.
If you do get Coronavirus, try to take care and manage symptoms at home. If symptoms persist or cannot be managed, reach out to your medical doctor or visit a local community urgent care. Medications like steroids could help take care of symptoms like shortness of breath in some patients. Please note that if you get any of the following urgent health symptoms, dial 911 or proceed to the hospital emergency room:
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Difficulty speaking
If I have a Sore throat symptoms and it is COVID disease related then when was I exposed to the viral spread?