It's not uncommon in the late fall or winter. Most sore throats
are caused by a viral infection and accompany a cold or the
flu. The sore throat caused by a virus usually goes away on
its own after about a week.
a sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection -- usually
strep (streptococcal). Strep
throat may cause a painful throat, swollen lymph glands, fever
or headaches, but usually doesn't cause the cough, congestion
or hoarseness of viral infections.
Strep throat requires antibiotics.
Your doctor can determine if you have a viral or a bacterial
infection by swabbing the back of your throat and culturing
the cells for bacteria.
are tips from the Mayo Clinic offering self-care advice for
easing sore throat pain;
• Get plenty of rest.
• Double your fluid intake.
• Gargle, but don't swallow, a glass of warm water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
• Use throat sprays or lozenges.
• Eat foods that are gentle on your throat, such as ice cream, sorbet, or soup.
• Take pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or ibuprofen (Advil and others).
Note: if a sore throat doesn't go away in a few days, or seems to improve and then comes back again, check with your doctor. Besides strep throat, other conditions with persistent symptoms of sore throat may include mononucleosis (especially when accompanied by unexplained fatigue), tonsillitus (especially in young children), or severe allergies.
See your doctor immediately if sore throat symptoms are accompanied by a persitent earache or difficulty swallowing, which may be signs of a more serious condition.