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Sore throat symptoms

Colds and flu are the most common cause of sore throat symptoms

Sore throat as a symptom of colds & flu

Sore throats are often part of the symptoms experienced with cold and flu infections. They may however, develop further as a result of subsequent infection by bacteria. Inflammation at the back of the throat can give rise to a variety of symptoms, all described as a ‘sore throat’:

  • At the start of a viral cold infection, it is not uncommon to experience a feeling of irritation at the back of the throat which might be described as ‘scratchy’ or ‘itchy’
  • If the throat inflammation continues, this irritation can develop into a discomfort or pain
  • Further inflammation can give rise to discomfort on swallowing food or liquids

Other symptoms of a sore throat

Other sore throat symptoms overlap with those of colds and flu, and may include:

  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Swollen glands in your neck
  • Fever
  • Aching muscles or joints
  • Cough
  • Lethargy

Swollen tonsils may indicate that the infection has affected the lymph nodes at the back of the throat. In addition, a loss of voice, or hoarseness, would suggest that the inflammation has reached the vocal cords or the larynx.

When you should see your doctor

In most cases, symptoms of a sore throat do not need medical attention. However, there are a number of circumstances where you should seek the advice of your doctor:

  • If your sore throat is accompanied by high fever
  • Your sore throat symptoms do not improve within one week
  • You experience repeated and frequent episodes of sore throat without an apparent cause
  • If you have difficulty breathing
  • If you are suffering from an underlying health condition which suppresses your immune system, such as HIV, AIDS, leukaemia, whilst receiving chemotherapy etc.