McFarland Clinic

Do You Have 'Just' a Sore Throat or Strep?

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January 27, 2016

A sore throat is a common symptom with many causes. Determining whether you have a bacterial or viral infection is important in treatment. But how do you know if it’s ‘just’ a sore throat?

When It’s a Sore Throat

A sore throat can be caused by 

  • a cold
  • sinus drainage
  • dry air
  • snoring
  • coughing
  • acid reflux
  • swollen/abscessed tonsils

“These are all examples of viral infections resulting in sore throats,” says Ann Feser, ARNP, McFarland Express Care

“Antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses,” says Feser. “Symptomatic care can ease the discomfort caused by the symptoms. Try warm salt water gargles, hot tea with honey, throat lozenges or sprays, pain relievers.” 

If you have a sore throat that does not resolve, you are running a fever, or have a history of strep throat, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

When It’s Strep Throat

“The only way to know for sure if you have strep throat is to do a rapid strep test or throat culture,” says Feser. “Strep throat is contagious so getting appropriate care is important to limiting exposure.”

If you test positive for rapid strep or your throat culture comes back positive, you will be given an antibiotic in pill form or a shot. 

“It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Failing to do so can result in needing the same treatment later,” says Feser.  Return to your primary care provider’s office if your symptoms fail to resolve with treatment or worsen at any time.” 

The same symptomatic at home care for sore throats can be used to ease the discomfort of strep throat. 

Where to Get Care

If you are not feeling well, call your primary care provider’s office. Often you can be seen the same day.

If your primary care provider’s office is not open, McFarland Clinic offers after hours care at McFarland Clinic After Hours or McFarland Express Care

If you do not have a primary care provider, our staff can assist you in selecting a PCP for follow up care. To view primary care offices and providers available at McFarland Clinic, click on either of these primary care specialties: Adult Medicine, Family Medicine or Pediatrics.

Still not sure where to go? Call First Nurse at 800-524-6877. The First Nurse Call Center is a free, confidential health information service staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day. 






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