This Is When You Should Be Concerned About Your Sore Throat

Having a sore throat is generally a mild symptom caused by a virus such as a cold or flu (per Mayo Clinic). It may include pain or a scratchy sensation in your throat that is exacerbated by talking or swallowing. You may have swollen tonsils or swollen glands in your jaw or neck, and your voice may become hoarse. Most of the time, a sore throat resolves on its own within 10 days as the virus runs its course.

Less commonly, a sore throat can be caused by bacterial infections such as strep throat — in this case, you may need to treat the infection with an antibiotic, which should alleviate the sore throat in a day or two (per Healthline). Alternatively, sore throats may be caused by dryness, allergies, irritants, muscle strain, tumors, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. While some of these potential causes are relatively harmless, others are more serious and may require medical attention. But when should you become worried about your sore throat?

These are signs you should see a doctor for a sore throat

According to Dr. Julina Ongkasuwan, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine, a person should see a doctor for a throat swab if their sore throat is accompanied by a high fever or pus on the tonsils, both of which might indicate a bacterial infection. If a sore throat lasts longer than three weeks and is accompanied by weight loss or difficulty swallowing, it may also be a sign of a more serious condition.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology advises to see your doctor if the sore throat is severe or doesn't resolve on its own in five to 10 days. Other red flags that warrant a visit to the doctor include joint pain, earache, rash, a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, blood in your saliva or phlegm, a lump in your neck, or swelling in your neck or face. You should also contact your doctor if you have sore throats regularly, if you have hoarseness for more than two weeks, or if you struggle to swallow, breathe, or open your mouth.

Meanwhile, if your child is the one with the sore throat, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises immediate care if your child has difficulty breathing or swallowing, or has unusual drooling (via Mayo Clinic).