Sore throats are a common occurrence, especially during cold and flu season. In many cases, it might feel a little uncomfortable, but it is usually nothing to worry about.
However, a sore throat can also be an early indication of something more serious. Being aware of the warning signs associated with a worsening sore throat can help you identify when it’s time to seek medical attention.
Here are seven signs that your sore throat is turning into something more serious:
Any time you experience difficulty breathing, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. An inability to breathe correctly can quickly lead to serious complications.
A sore throat that is accompanied by difficulty breathing could be indicative of a more serious infection, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
It’s not uncommon for a sore throat to cause some discomfort when swallowing, but it should not be so painful that you are unable to eat or drink. If the pain is severe and interfering with your ability to swallow, this can be a sign of strep throat or another bacterial infection that requires medical attention.
If you have a sore throat accompanied by a fever, this usually means your body is fighting off an infection. A simple cold won’t typically raise your body temperature significantly, so if you have a fever over 101°F, it is more likely to be something more serious such as strep throat or COVID-19.
Coughing Up Blood or Green Mucus
Coughing up blood means there is damage in your lungs, throat, or airways. If you are experiencing this symptom along with a sore throat, it is a sign that something more serious is happening, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Also, be aware of coughing up greenish mucus, as this can indicate an infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Rash on Your Neck or Chest
Bacterial infections like strep throat, scarlet fever, and bacteremia can all cause a rash on your neck and chest. While the rash may not be painful or irritating, it is a sign that you are dealing with something more serious, and you will need antibiotics or other medical treatment right away.
Long-Lasting Sore Throat
Most sore throats will go away on their own after a few days. If your sore throat persists for more than two weeks, this could be an indication of chronic pharyngitis, tonsillitis, or another condition that requires medical attention.
It could also be the result of acid reflux, seasonal allergies, or other non-infectious causes. Either way, it is best to get an accurate diagnosis so you can begin treatment right away.
Unresponsive Sore Throat
A sore throat can often be managed at home with over-the-counter medications or home remedies. These don’t typically heal the underlying condition, but they can give you some relief while your body recovers on its own.
If your sore throat is not responding to any of these treatments and continues to worsen, you may be dealing with an infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Other Concerning or Unusual Symptoms
If you are experiencing any other concerning or unusual symptoms along with your sore throat, it’s always a good idea to check in with your primary doctor, or emergency services, if necessary. This could include symptoms like weight loss, migraines, abdominal pain, joint pain, drooling, or difficulty sleeping.
No matter what symptoms you may be experiencing along with your sore throat, getting an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment is a vital step to recovering from your illness and getting back to feeling like yourself again.