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Sore throat: when is it a symptom of pharyngitis and when of COVID-19

The sudden change in temperature that occurs when we go out of our house to the street can lead to serious health problems, and that is why there are people who are experiencing some sore throats in recent days (Getty Images)

The mouth is the largest open space of the body to the outside, being the throat the main victim. Sometimes, on the coldest days of winter we are very wrapped up with coats and scarves, but we leave a door open to the “enemy”, the mouth, so we run the risk of contracting pharyngitis or a severe sore throat.

If we also add to this the arrival of a new peak in coronavirus infections due to the new Omicron variants and the disease already known as COVID-19, it will be common to see how our throat suffers the effects of this disease.

sore throat is one of the recurrent symptoms of the virus that has plagued us for more than two years and the new subvariants continue to present it regularly. But, How can you differentiate the sore throat caused by the coronavirus from pharyngitis?

Pharyngitis is a pathology that is caused by swelling of the back of the throat, the pharynx area, specifically between the tonsils and the larynx (REUTERS)
Pharyngitis is a pathology that is caused by swelling of the back of the throat, the pharynx area, specifically between the tonsils and the larynx (REUTERS)

The throat pain is a condition that It can be caused by an irritation in the tonsils, that according to the Mayo Clinic, pharyngitis is the infection most associated with this symptom. Meanwhile, he explains that this pain can be caused by bacteria, so it is treated in most cases with antibiotics.

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The pharyngitis It is a disease that causes swelling or irritation of the back of the throat (pharynx). This disease can cause discomfort when swallowing and even though It usually occurs more often in the winter months, The truth is that the sudden changes in temperature that usually occur in summer and excessive exposure to air conditioning can also cause many of these infections if care is not taken.

Between the symptom most common cases of pharyngitis are some such as fever, malaise, redness of the pharynx, presence of whitish or grayish patches of exudate on the tonsils or pharynx, acute sore throat when swallowing saliva and food, and enlarged and tender cervical glands.

Experts recommend that the key to differentiating a sore throat from COVID-19 from pharyngitis is that it is usually preceded by a dry cough (Christin Klose)
Experts recommend that the key to differentiating a sore throat from COVID-19 from pharyngitis is that it is usually preceded by a dry cough (Christin Klose)

Although a sore throat is one of the symptoms of COVID-19, It really is one of the rarest. that can be experienced. this pain It starts out mild at first and, as the days go by, it can get worse. Thus, from the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen) warn that plaques in the throat usually come from infections such as bacterial pharyngeal tonsillitis, causing fever and requiring antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment.

Nonetheless, It cannot be ruled out that it is a coronavirus, even if this symptom is not the usual one. Thus, experts recommend that The key to differentiating a sore throat from COVID-19 from pharyngitis is that it is usually preceded by a dry cough.

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Also, One of the latest variants of COVID-19, Ómicron, has very clear differences that can be easily distinguished from pharyngitis. In this case, this virus is characterized by causing extreme fatigue, fever, tachycardia, elevated heart rate, and muscle pain. Apart from the above symptoms, there are even some patients who report episodes of night sweats.

One of the latest variants of COVID-19, the Omicron, has very clear differences that can be easily distinguished from pharyngitis (Getty Images)
One of the latest variants of COVID-19, the Omicron, has very clear differences that can be easily distinguished from pharyngitis (Getty Images)

What should we do in case of doubt? If we still have doubts about whether we suffer from COVID-19, pharyngitis or a cold, from the Mayo Clinic they insist that It is important to immediately contact our trusted doctor so that they can advise us.

On the other hand, when in doubt, it is very important do a rapid antigen test (TAR) at home, or request a PCR test at our nearest medical center. We must be aware that If we are infected with coronavirus, we can transmit the virus to people close to us who could become seriously ill.

Regardless of the patient’s age, the World Health Organization recommends that anyone who has a fever or cough, in combination with shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, or trouble speaking or moving, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The path recommended by the OMS es Call your GP or Primary Care Medical Center first for referral to the appropriate hospital or care facility.

If it finally ends up being a cold or pharyngitis, we must take care of ourselves by drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest. In that case, we must also avoid the temperature contrast caused by the outside temperature of the street and the air conditioners or heaters that we have inside the house.

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