Sore throats are a pretty common everyday thing. Especially in winter when their dreaded arrival heralds the start of a cold or flu. And in the spring a sore throat could also be one of the symptoms of seasonal allergies that affect so many of us.
But sometimes a sore throat could also be part of a range of symptoms that could be indicative of something much more serious, and which should be acted upon immediately.
If your sore throat is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, we suggest you read carefully and take the appropriate action.
Fever – If a sore throat is accompanied by fever it should be taken seriously, especially in infants and young children. It can be a sign of a bacterial or viral infection, but if the body temperature rises over 37°C medical attention should be sought urgently. Fevers, if left untreated in infants and children may result in serious complications, such as brain damage, seizures, hallucinations, or dehydration. Speak to your paediatrician about symptoms and safe temperatures and invest in a good quality thermometer in order to have all the best and correct information at hand to be able to make the right, well-informed decisions if the need arises.
Rash – If you experience a sore throat as well as a skin rash, you could be suffering from a number of common childhood illnesses like Chickenpox, Measles or Rubella (German measles). While this may initially not sound all that serious you should be aware that each of these conditions can be quite severe, especially to adults and the elderly, and they can also lead to dangerous secondary complications and infections. Not to even mention that they are highly contagious and is spread quite easily from one person to the next. Knowing means preventing and once a doctor can confirm your diagnosis you will be able to take the necessary steps to keep yourself and your condition isolated from other people.
Swelling – A sore throat with extra symptoms of swelling of the neck and/or tongue and accompanying pain can often be the result of inflamed or enlarged lymph glands. Lymph glands will often swell up in response to an infection such as Tonsillitis, Glandular Fever, and the common Cold. But more serious reasons behind the swelling of lymph glands can also include conditions like Cancer, Lupus, Syphilis and even HIV. That why it is always best to consult a doctor for a formal examination, test, and a correct diagnosis.
If your sore throat is accompanied by a swollen tongue this could be an indication of infections like Pharyngitis, Laryngitis, Tonsillitis, or Strep Throat. Swelling of the tongue is considered particularly serious as it can block the airways and restrict breathing so medical assistance should be sought out immediately.
Stiff Neck – This symptom, when coupled with a sore throat, is quite often a sign of Meningitis which is a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord’s surrounding membranes. This disease can be life-threatening and other symptoms to look for can include fever, nausea, vomiting, a sensitivity to light and/or sound, and difficulty moving your chin towards your chest. Seek medical help immediately – Meningitis is classified as a medical emergency and the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of successful recovery with minimum complications. Also bear in mind that some forms of bacterial Meningitis is contagious and you don’t want to go around possibly spreading this disease any further because you’re unaware of your condition.
If your sore throat lasts for longer than a week or doesn’t respond to medication it is also advisable to consult with a doctor. And immediate medical help is of course always advisable to anyone who may be medically vulnerable such as those who are pregnant, suffer from diabetes, cancer, HIV, or any other compromised immune system conditions.
Don’t delay, be safe rather than sorry later and get the proper diagnosis as soon as possible. Then you will be able to keep not only yourself safe, but those around you as well.