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When to Call Your Doctor

Although most sore throats are not serious, in certain situations, they can be. If you are unsure about a particular symptom or what you should do, call your healthcare provider. You may also want to seek medical care if you (or your child) have any of the following symptoms:
 
  • Temperature higher than 101ºF (38.3ºC)
  • Swelling in the neck or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing, or opening the mouth
  • Severe sore throat
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty talking
  • Muffled voice
  • Stiff neck
  • Signs of dehydration, including:
     
    • Increased thirst
    • Dry, sticky mouth
    • Decreased urination or fewer wet diapers
    • Few or no tears when crying
    • Muscle weakness
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness.
 
Other reasons to contact your healthcare provider for a sore throat include:
 
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than one week
  • Pus on the back of the throat
  • A rash
  • Hoarseness lasting for more than two weeks
  • Blood in saliva or phlegm
  • Recurring sore throats
  • You have been exposed to someone with strep throat or a sexually transmitted disease.
     

Preventing a Sore Throat

It is not possible to completely avoid getting sore throats. However, there are some things you can do to decrease the chances.
 
The best way is through regular handwashing. To properly wash your hands, scrub them briskly for at least 15 seconds with soap and water. After washing, dry them with a disposable towel. When you don't have access to soap and water, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 62 percent alcohol.
 
(Click Sore Throat Prevention for more ideas on decreasing the chances of getting a sore throat.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
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