Doctor’s tip: What to do about a sore throat
Mild sore throats are usually due to viral infections such as the common cold, in which case they are accompanied by other cold symptoms.
If you have a moderate to severe sore throat, without a runny nose or cough or other cold symptoms, you need to see if it is due to the strep bacteria, because if left untreated, strep throat can result in rheumatic fever or a kidney disease called glomerulonephritis. Typically, strep throat is also associated with sore, tender neck glands and a white exudate in the throat.
Most labs allow people to obtain a rapid strep test without an order from a physician, with results available in minutes. Usually, if the rapid test is negative, an overnight throat culture is done, and occasionally this will be positive even if the rapid test is negative.
In any case, if your test is positive for strep, see or contact your provider, because you need an antibiotic. Penicillin is usually used, or erythromycin in the case of penicillin allergy.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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