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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Understanding Sore Throat -- Symptoms

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The classic symptoms include a burning feeling or "scratchiness" in the back of your throat, pain (especially when you swallow), and perhaps tenderness along your neck.

You may also have:

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When to Call the Doctor

  • You also have a fever higher than 101 degrees F without other cold symptoms. This could mean you have strep throat. It’s a bacterial infection that needs to get treated.
  • You've got any pain or hoarseness that lasts longer than 2 weeks. There's a chance that this could be a warning sign of throat cancer or oral cancer.
  • Your sore throat comes with drooling, or you have trouble swallowing or breathing. This might mean your epiglottis, the structure that overhangs the opening to your throat, is inflamed. You could also have an abscess in the back of your throat. You need to get treated ASAP for these two rare conditions.
  • You have a sore throat and pain that moves to your ear. This may be a sign of a more serious problem.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2015

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