Do you have a sore throat? A scratchy, raw, or painful feeling could signal something serious—or it could come from a common, mild illness. If you're not sure what to do about your sore throat, take a look at what you need to know about your health, treatment, and urgent care services.
What Causes A Sore Throat?
There isn't one disease that causes this symptom. The most common illnesses that could include a sore throat are the cold, the flu, Covid-19, and strep throat. Some people may also experience an itchy or irritated feeling with allergies. A sore throat that itches and is swollen is a possible sign of a serious food or other allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This is an emergency medical issue that requires immediate treatment from a hospital ER.
Should You Call Your Doctor About A Sore Throat?
The answer to this question depends on the type of sore throat you have, the severity of the discomfort, other symptoms, and the time of day or day of the week. Again, a sore throat from a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction requires emergency intervention. But if the discomfort is mild and doesn't include swelling or other serious symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, you could call your primary care physician (PCP).
What Should You Do If the Doctor's Office Is Closed?
You don't have an emergency issue. But you also have a nagging sore throat that may require medical attention. If the doctor's office is closed, an urgent care center can help. Urgent care provides medical services from licensed healthcare providers during both traditional (weekday daylight) and non-traditional (evening and weekend) hours.
How Can An Urgent Care Clinic Help?
The medical providers at an urgent healthcare clinic will take a health history and ask you to explain your current symptoms. You may need diagnostic testing, such as blood work, a throat swab for strep, a nasal swab for the flu, or a Covid-19 test. If you take a rapid strep, flu, or Covid-19 test, you will get the results almost immediately. But if you need blood work, a PCR Covid-19 test, or another testing that the clinic sends to a lab, you may need to wait until the next day (or possibly longer) for a diagnosis.
After the medical provider diagnoses an illness they will create a treatment plan for your sore throat. This could include over-the-counter remedies such as acetaminophen for pain or throat lozenges to combat rawness, prescription antibiotics for a bacterial infection (such as strep throat), or other medications.