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A sore throat is medically referred to as pharyngitis and is usually characterized by painful swallowing and dry scratchiness. The condition is commonly caused by different viral infections like influenza or the common cold. A sore throat is usually the first sign of sickness and the most common reason to go see a doctor, although, in most cases, the condition does not require medical attention to be treated properly.

Numerous viruses that cause sore throat usually go away on their own and can be fought by common home treatments and over-the-counter medications that do not require a doctor's prescription. If the condition is caused by a bacterial infection it will require medical attention and most likely a treatment with antibiotic medications.


The most common symptoms of a sore throat include painful swallowing, talking, and breathing and a scratchy, dry, swollen throat as well. The condition is usually caused by an infection that has its own symptoms. The common cold may be the cause of a sore throat, and it usually includes body aches, sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, and fever as well.

The underlying condition that causes a sore throat gets better on its own within a couple of days, and it rarely calls for a professional medical treatment. Sometimes the underlying condition that causes a sore throat may be serious, and if that is the case, it is usually tonsillitis or perhaps strep throat.

These conditions are commonly characterized by vomiting, severe throat pain, difficulty swallowing, headache, skin rash, swollen tonsils, high fever, and white patches on the throat. Sometimes a person must see a doctor if certain severe symptoms occur.

Those include a very high fever, swollen or tender lymph nodes, white patches at the back of the throat, skin rashes, and bloody saliva. Other symptoms that require medical attention include hoarseness, dehydration, decreased urination, excessive drooling, sunken eyes, mono, meningitis, and a sore throat, which gets better but keeps worsening at the same time.

Sore Throat Complications

Some viral and bacterial infections can lead to certain complications of a sore throat which include ear infections, sinus infections, scarlet fever, tonsillitis, kidney inflammations, and rheumatic fever which can sometimes even cause heart damage.

Sore throat is a common reason for consultation of primary care physicians, pediatricians, and ENT specialists. The updated German clinical practice guideline on sore throat provides evidence-based recommendations for treatment in the framework of the German healthcare system.
  • High-risk complications of sore throat are very rare in countries such as Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands.
  • Suppurative complications (otitis media, peritonsillar abscess, sinusitis, bacterial skin infections) occur in less than 1.4% of cases of acute sore throat. The most common non-suppurative complications worldwide that can develop as a result of GAS tonsillopharyngitis include acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN).
  • The annual incidence of ARF in Germany is estimated to be less than 1/1 000 000 inhabitants. The incidence in many developing countries is far higher. Rheumatic heart disease (RHD), which develops in 30–80% as a result of ARF, represents the most frequent cause of acquired heart diseases in high-incidence countries.
  • APSGN is rare in Germany and generally has a good prognosis for complete resolution. It has not been demonstrated that antibiotic treatment of the primary infection is able to prevent APSGN.
✓ Fact confirmed: Sore Throat Karen Krüger, Nicole Töpfner, Reinhard Berner, Jochen Windfuhr, and Jan Hendrik Oltrogge; 2021 Mar 19.

Strep throat is commonly characterized by fever, rash, painful swallowing, swollen tonsils, swollen lymph glands, headache, vomiting, and stomachache. Infectious mononucleosis is characterized by symptoms, such as spleen inflammation, anemia, heart inflammation, liver inflammation, nerve damage, swollen tonsils, fatigue, headache, skin rash, fever, weakness, sore throat, night sweats, and a loss of appetite.

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