Does a Sore Throat Mean You Have the Flu?

Child With the Flu

Is that itch in your throat just an itch, or something more? It's important to pay careful attention to symptoms and know when a dry and scratchy throat may actually be something trivial... or indicate a case of strep throat, tonsillitis, or the flu. Since flu season is upon us, now is a great time to learn more about potential conditions associated with sore throat and flu symptoms.

Common Causes of a Sore Throat

A sore throat is annoying but the best way to treat it is to understand the reason for it. A sore throat might be the result of a common cold, dry air or allergies. More serious conditions that can lead to a sore throat include bacterial infections such as streptococcus and tonsillitis. Cases such as these may require a visit to the pediatrician or a primary care doctor; surgery is usually needed for those with severe and recurring cases of tonsillitis.

A sore throat can also be brought on by non-flu viruses, such as measles, chickenpox, mononucleosis, and the croup. These are just a few of the sore throat possibilities, and no single treatment can be used to cure them all. Using the wrong treatment can even have damaging effects on your health in some situations, which is why it is important to understand the underlying cause of your sore throat.

Some sore throat remedies include:

  • A humidifier or oral analgesic spray for sore throats due to dry air
  • Reducing exposure to irritants for those with allergies
  • Penicillin and other antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain relievers for viral infections, the most common cause of a sore throat.

Symptoms of the Flu

You know your sore throat is the flu when your symptoms are far greater than just a sore throat. Influenza is a viral infection, so there isn’t much you can do once you’ve been exposed. It is easier to address the flu when you are able to catch it early on. Some early symptoms include:

  • Body aches and chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fever

Treating The Flu

Once you start to feel these early symptoms, it is good to take precautions to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Get plenty of sleep every night to help your body to fight off the virus; over-the-counter pain medications or antivirals can help with symptoms like body aches and fever; drink plenty of fluids and take cough drops to ease a sore throat; chicken soup, caffeine-free tea and gargling with warm salt water can also help soothe the throat and open up sinuses.

The recovery period varies with the flu, and it is important to stay home until symptoms improve and you are fever-free without medication for 24 hours. This can help prevent the spread of the flu virus to others. It is important to remember that antibiotics should never be used to treat the flu or other viruses, only bacterial infections.

Flu Virus Prevention

At least 3,000 people in the U.S. die from each year from influenza. To protect yourself and your loved ones, be sure to take preventative measures, especially during the winter months. An annual flu shot is always recommended to everyone over the age of 6 months, and don’t forget to wash your hands frequently, carry hand sanitizer with you, avoid large groups of people if possible, and get plenty of vitamin C.

If your flu symptoms are progressing, or if you need your annual flu shot, make an appointment with your nearest MedPost Urgent Care center today.