Sore throat is one of the most common conditions seen in primary care offices. Most of the time a virus is responsible for causing sore throat. Approximately 5-10% of the time sore throat is caused by bacteria called Group A Strep (aka “strep throat”). Antibiotics are helpful against sore throat ONLY when there is evidence of a bacterial infection.
If a student is seen at SHS for sore throat we will often do a test in the office to check for Strep. If we do not think antibiotics will help the infection then we will discuss other medicines that may help instead. Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health issue and we know that each time a patient takes antibiotics when they are not necessary their risk of having an antibiotic-resistant infection in the future increases. For that reason we try to use antibiotics only when clearly needed.
The good news for sore throat sufferers is that most infections are self-limited, meaning your body will fight it off as long as you get adequate rest, fluids, and good nutrition. Most viruses hang around in the body for 3-10 days.
For sore throat there are several ways to help ease the pain. You can try over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen (please check for proper doses on the box). You can also gargle with warm salt water or try drinking hot liquids like tea with honey. Numbing cough drops can also be helpful (available in any pharmacy).
Students with cold symptoms including sore throat can be evaluated at SHS. You can make an appointment by clicking on the link “Schedule an Appointment” above.