An irritated sore throat is one of the most common problems treated at Encino Commons Urgent Care. Your sore throat could be a minor setback, or it could be a sign of a more serious illness like strep throat or bronchitis. While one is a bacterial infection that leads to uncomfortable throat pain and difficulty swallowing, the other is inflammation that settles in the chest and is accompanied by coughing and mucus. At Encino Commons, we’re dedicated to getting you the right information and getting you diagnosed correctly. In very rare cases, a sore throat can be considered an emergency. If you or anyone you know experiences difficulty breathing or significant difficulty swallowing, call 911 immediately. In non emergent cases, Encino Commons is here to treat you seven days a week with no appointment necessary.
What Is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils, and symptoms can make it’s victims feel terrible. Anyone can contract strep throat, but its most common in children because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. People who contract strep throat can experience symptoms such as:
Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
Bright red rash covering the body
Body aches and chills
Red and swollen tonsils
Tiny red spots at the back of the throat
Tender, swollen lymph nodes in the neck
Fever or headache
In most cases, strep throat, though extremely painful, is harmless and can be easily treated. In some severe cases, you might encounter fever, a loss of appetite, or difficulty swallowing or breathing. If this is the case, contact 911 immediately.
How Do You Get Strep Throat?
Strep throat is most commonly spread by breathing the same air as someone infected with strep. Coughing and sneezing is the top way people contract and spread their strep. You can also contract strep throat by simply touching something that someone infected has touched or sneezed on. Transferring germs to your nose or mouth unknowingly after touching an infected area or by sharing items like water bottles or utensils with an infected person is a sure fire way to get yourself sick. Maybe do a little less sharing when there’s strep going around!
Once You’ve Been Diagnosed
The good news is that since strep throat is a bacterial infection, there are antibiotics, like penicillin or amoxicillin, that your doctor can prescribe to get you feeling better, fast. The proper antibiotics can help lessen both the amount of time that you’re sick and how long you’re contagious to the people around you. Keep in mind that you should avoid contact with anyone for at least 24 hours after you start taking the antibiotics. Strep throat is highly contagious so that 24 hour period is crucial in protecting anyone else from contracting the infection.
Always consult your primary care physician before taking any medication. While your medications are kicking in, consider these tips to remedy your strep throat symptoms at home:
Warm liquids help ease an inflamed throat and tonsils
Throat lozenges or throat sprays help numb and soothe the throat
Cool liquids help soothe the throat
Stay hydrated with water or popsicles
Gargling warm salt water can aide soreness and clean bacteria
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. When the lining of the bronchial tubes gets inflamed, a thick mucus is produced, irritating the lungs and breathing process. When this happens, people often cough up discolored mucus. There are two types of bronchitis; acute and chronic. Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis is a constant irritation of the lining of the bronchial tubes often due to smoking and can be a more serious condition. Because it’s an infection in your chest that lasts anywhere from 7-10 days, you could experience:
Shortness of breath
Production of mucus when coughing
Slight fever and chills
What is Acute Bronchitis?
Like the cold and flu, acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. It typically follows a cold or a respiratory infection. It’s recommended to practice healthy hygiene habits to avoid contracting the virus. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer can go a long way in reducing your risk of catching the harsh viral infection.
Chronic bronchitis is associated with a cough that lasts several months, with recurring flare ups every few years. While it’s generally associated with smoking, it can also be brought on by dust, toxins, and air pollution. If you’re exposed to any of these for extended periods of time, it would be beneficial to wear a mask to prevent inhaling particles that can make your illness worse.
You can take ibuprofen to help manage any discomfort until the illness has run its course. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator to open up your airways. To remedy your symptoms, you can try:
Over-the-counter cough suppressants
Honey to help soothe an irritated throat
Using a humidifier can help loosen and break up mucus
Always discuss treatment and medications with your doctor first. In the case of an emergency, please call 911 immediately.