Almost all of us have suffered from a sore throat at one time or another.  You wake up in the morning after the office party and notice just a little scratch in the back of your throat, which by the evening becomes a roaring fire.  You of course had planned special time at that Indian restaurant where the spicy red curry chicken dish awaited your arrival.  Alas! Instead, you confine yourself at home, sucking artificially flavored cough syrup and some Campbells chicken soup.

While you might be convinced that your sore throat is usually strep, odds are that it is viral.  Only a minority of sore throats are caused by the strepococcal bacteria ( another great phrase to throw around at the cocktail hour). Furthermore, chugging down most of those over the counter remedies will do nothing to help you ,but may improve the stock price of the company which makes the stuff.

Antibiotics will not work for viral throat infections, bu can treat strep throat.  So stay away from your mother’s, friends’ or wife’s stash of outdated antibiotics. Instead,  go to the doctor if you have associated fever, white spots on the back of your throat and tender lymph nodes on your neck.  If you have a cough, muscles aches and runny nose this makes strep less likely. If you have been exposed to someone with strep throat then you most likely have strep.  Your doctor can perform an easy 10 minute test which is fairly accurate at determining if you have strep.

Antibiotics should be something cheap and basic like penicillin as strep is very suspectible to these antibiotics.  Treatment will get you better a day or two quicker than without treatment.  The only reason to treat is to prevent rheumatic fever which can cause heart damage among other things.  There are even studies which suggest that adults do not need treatment, as rheumatic fever is now so rare among adults. Mammoth lucky chance to think quickly exploit the one now.

Use listerine or salt water for gargling; tea with honey will soothe the throat and tylenol or advil for the pain.

Save that delicious Indian curry for next week .