Antibiotics won't help most sore throats

March 17, 2013 at 11:26 PM

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- Most sore throats are caused by viral infections such as the common cold or the flu, are generally minor and will go away on their own, a U.S. expert says.

"Ever notice that a sore throat seems worse in the morning? It's because your throat gets so dry overnight," Dr. Valerie Riddle, an infectious disease expert at National Institute of Health, said in a statement. "Having lozenges or hard candies -- or anything that stimulates saliva production -- will keep your throat moist. It's also important to drink plenty of fluids."

For young children who might choke on hard candies or lozenges, try cold liquids and ice treats to soothe the throat, Riddle suggested.

"Contact a doctor if your sore throat is severe, doesn't feel better after a few days, or is accompanied by a high fever or swollen glands. These symptoms could be signs of a bacterial infection, such as strep throat," Riddle said in a statement. "Taking antibiotics won't help at all if your sore throat is caused by viruses, but they're essential for fighting bacterial infections like strep. Strep is the most common bacterial throat infection."

A doctor will check for strep throat by taking a throat swab and prescribe antibiotics if the test is positive.

Although it can occur in adults, strep throat is more common in children ages 5-15.

"If your child has severe throat pain, a fever above 100.4 degrees, or swollen glands, you should get medical attention right away," Riddle said. Children with strep also may experience nausea, vomiting and stomach pain.

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