Sore Throat Diagnosis

To diagnose a sore throat, a healthcare provider will consider several factors. Some of these factors include other symptoms you may be experiencing, other medical conditions you have, and whether you (or a family member) smoke. Other ways your healthcare provider will determine the cause of your sore throat is to do a physical exam and possibly some lab tests.

Diagnosing the Cause of a Sore Throat

A sore throat can be caused by a number of different illnesses or environmental factors. Before deciding the cause, a healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. These questions can be about:
 
  • Your current symptoms
  • Any medical conditions that you have
  • Any medicines you are taking
  • Whether you smoke (or a family member smokes)
  • If any close contacts have also been sick.
     
After doing a medical history, the healthcare provider will then do a physical exam to look for additional clues.
 
Based on the history and physical exam, a healthcare provider may or may not order lab tests. For example, if he or she thinks a virus is causing the sore throat, lab tests are not necessary. On the other hand, if it could be strep throat, he or she may recommend a rapid strep test or throat culture (see Strep Throat Diagnosis).
 
Based on all the information from the history, physical exam, and any tests, your healthcare provider can usually determine the cause of the sore throat and whether treatment is necessary (see Sore Throat Remedies).
 
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Sore Throat Information

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