Is Your Sore Throat a Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?
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
- Skin rash
- 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
- 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.