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Say ah... Sore throats are treated differently - depending on which type they are - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 12/10/2013

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN – Sore throats are a common complaint this time of year, but how do you know when they are a sign of a serious illness?

We caught up with Dr. Nadim Bikhazi, an ear, nose, throat physician and president of the board at Ogden Clinic.

“Sore throats are divided into two main categories: bacterial and viral,” he said. “The most significant bacterial sore throat is caused by strep, which is readily responsive to antibiotics.”

Strep throat is caused by a bacteria called Streptococus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus. It is highly contagious and can be spread when a person coughs or sneezes or through touching infected surfaces.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, most sore throats are not caused by strep. Approximately three out of 10 children with a sore throat have strep. In adults that figure is around 15 percent.

If, however, the sore throat is caused by strep, your doctor can swab the back of your throat and test you for the bacteria. If strep is not treated it can spread, causing infection in your skin, sinuses, tonsils, blood and middle ear, the Mayo Clinic website states. It can also lead to scarlet fever, inflammation of the kidneys and rheumatic fever. In addition, researchers are investigating the possibility of a link between strep infection and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder, a rare condition that can cause obsessive compulsive disorder or tic disorders.

Upper respiratory-induced sore throats which are viral, go away on their own, Bikhazi said.

Antibiotics will not help a viral infection, but discoveryhealth.com suggests keeping your nasal passages clear with a saline solution, rest and take it easy, garble with salt water, juice bars, hard candy, warm drinks and lemon water with honey can all help sooth a sore throat. Viral sore throats are also extremely contagious.

Unfortunately the symptoms of both viral and bacterial sore throats overlap. These may include fever, difficulty swallowing and swollen glands. The most obvious clinical difference is that bacterial sore throats tend to have a white patchy appearance and viral sore throats are often red in appearance.

Another type of a more chronic viral sore throat is caused by Epstein Barr Virus, which results in Mononucleosis. This is often treated with steroids, Bikhazi said.

”Mononucleosis tends to confusing situation, as there can be white patchy membranes on the tonsils, and this is often confused with a bacterial infection even though it is viral,” he said.

Mononucleosis typically occurs in teenagers to young adults. In addition to a sore throat, glands are often swollen in the neck and other areas of the body, the spleen may be enlarged, and extreme fatigue is noted, said Bikhazi. A blood test called a Monospot can diagnose the illness.

If a sore throat lasts more than five days or you have a fever of 101 or higher, bleeding from the throat, extreme nausea and vomiting or fatigue, see your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis.