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Could It Be COVID? What Your Sore Throat Is Telling You

Frog in your throat? Or are you a little hoarse? These days even the slightest tickle can have you worried about contracting COVID-19. Read on to learn more about whether your sore throat is a result of COVID or something else going on with your body. 

Is a Sore Throat a Sign of COVID?

Yes, a sore throat is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. However, it’s rarely the only sign of infection, and most sore throats associated with COVID are mild and short-lived. 

If you have a sore throat alongside other symptoms of COVID-19, or you fear exposure, get tested to know for sure. Without other symptoms, your sore throat is not likely COVID-related. 

Here are four common reasons your throat may be sore.

1. Viral Infections

Viral infections, like a cold or the flu, are the most common reasons for a sore throat. Your throat may feel dry and scratchy, and swallowing may be difficult. Other common symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Hoarse voice
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Conjunctivitis

People with COVID-19 get sore throats because it’s an upper-respiratory viral infection. 

2. Bacterial Infections

Strep throat is one of the most common bacterial throat infections. It’s caused by streptococcal A bacteria and diagnosis is through a rapid strep test or a throat culture. Unlike a viral upper-respiratory infection, strep throat symptoms vary from those of COVID-19, and generally include:

  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White spots on tonsils or throat
  • Fever
  • Small red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Tender or sore lymph nodes on the sides of the neck
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, or nausea

Bacterial infections often require a prescription for antibiotics to help with recovery. 

3. Allergies

It’s common for allergens to cause a sore throat, for example:

  • Seasonal allergies can cause congestion and post-nasal drip, both of which can irritate the throat.
  • Allergic reactions to food can make the throat scratchy and swollen. 

Treat food-related allergies with urgency. A serious reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, may impact the ability to breathe and can therefore be life-threatening. 

4. Throat Injury or Exposure

Inhaling external irritants and air quality can also make your throat sore, for example:

  • Smoke
  • Other air pollutants, like chemicals
  • Dry air (winter, or air conditioning)

Some common injuries that may result in a sore throat include:

  • Vocal strain (like yelling at the baseball game)
  • Burns from hot food or liquid
  • Abrasions from sharp food (unchewed chips, bones, or even crusty bread)

Vocal strain will usually heal without treatment, but it’s important to see a doctor if your voice doesn’t come back after a few days. 

How to Treat a Sore Throat

Some at-home remedies to relieve the pain associated with a sore throat include: 

  • Drinking warm, caffeine and alcohol-free fluids, like herbal tea or broth
  • Using a cool-air humidifier 
  • Gargling saltwater
  • Resting your voice and throat
  • Soft foods
  • Honey (but not for babies under 1-year-old)
  • Throat lozenges

Whatever the reason, having a sore throat can be hard to swallow. If you have a sore throat or you think you have COVID-19, visit your local vybe urgent care for a test and treatment today.