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Is Your Sore Throat a Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?

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What Is the Treatment for Strep Throat?

Strep throat is treated using antibiotics, which kill the bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics are often taken as pills or given as a shot. Penicillin and amoxicillin are common antibiotics used to treat strep throat. Other antibiotics are prescribed for people who are allergic to penicillin.

Follow your health care provider's instructions for antibiotic use. Take all of the medication, even if you feel better. You should feel better within a day or two. A person with strep throat should stay home until 24 hours after starting the antibiotic.

What If My Strep Throat Isn't Getting Better?

If your strep throat is not getting better, let your health care provider know right away. Do not stop taking your prescribed medicine unless your health care provider tells you to. Call your health care provider if these symptoms occur:

  • Fever one or two days after feeling better
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Cough
  • Swollen glands
  • Painful joints
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dark urine, rash, or chest pain (may occur three to four weeks later)

How Is Tonsillitis Different From a Sore Throat With a Cold?

Sometimes a sore throat is caused by tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsillitis can be caused by viruses or bacteria. While the tonsils' job is to help fight infection, the tonsils can also become infected. When they do, the result is tonsillitis and a very painful sore throat.

How Are Tonsillitis Symptoms Different From Symptoms of a Sore Throat With a Cold?

In addition to a sore throat, a cold usually causes nasal symptoms, such as runny nose or congestion. With tonsillitis, your tonsils become swollen and may have telltale white or yellow spots. Other symptoms with tonsillitis include the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Voice changes because of swelling
  • Painful swallowing
  • Swollen lymph glands in neck

How Is a Sore Throat From Tonsillitis Treated?

If the tonsillitis infection is bacterial like strep throat, then antibiotics are given. If the tonsillitis infection is viral, antibiotics will not help. The virus must run its course for the sore throat to resolve. For either type of throat infection, the following treatment measures may help:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking lots of fluid
  • Eating smooth, soothing foods like gelatin, ice cream, shakes, frozen desserts, and soup
  • Avoiding crunchy or spicy foods
  • Using a vaporizer
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Children should not take aspirin.

If the tonsillitis infections occur repeatedly, or if the tonsils are interfering with sleep and breathing, the doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy, which is the surgical removal of the tonsils.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 21, 2014
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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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