Sore throat: how to detect if it is pharyngitis or covid-19?

Sore throat: how to detect if it is pharyngitis or covid-19?

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Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, humanity has had to adopt measures such as isolation and the use of face masks to prevent contagion. Although more than two years have passed and the vaccination programs have advanced, cases are still occurring, for which the health authorities have called for not lowering their guard.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), The usual symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough, tiredness, and loss of taste or smell. Additionally, in less frequent cases, sore throat, headache, red or irritated eyes, aches and pains, diarrhoea, skin rash or discoloration of the fingers or toes may also occur.

From a general perspective, the symptoms of covid-19 are similar to those of a common flu, however, the comorbidities present in some people motivated additional care. Currently, according to data from Our World in Data, The world has recorded 6.39 million deaths due to the coronavirus.

Although the restrictive measures have already been relaxed in much of the world, the health authorities keep their alarm activated. In that sense, they continue to make a call to receive the coronavirus vaccine, as well as booster doses.

However, the fact that some symptoms of covid-19 are similar to the common flu has also led to a relaxation on the part of some people. For this reason, it is worth learning to differentiate between a sore throat that does not pose a greater risk to health and a symptom that alerts to the presence of the coronavirus.

Pharyngitis or covid-19?

According to the portal specialized in health MedlinePluspharyngitis, or sore throat, “is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat that often causes pain when swallowing”.

Likewise, it details that pharyngitis is caused by a swelling of the back of the throat, called the pharynx, between the tonsils and the larynx. This inflammation is usually caused by colds, the flu, or mononucleosis, and it often occurs when a person is exposed to cold temperatures.

Although the main symptom of pharyngitis is a sore throat, it can also occur fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Pharyngitis usually occurs when a person is exposed to cold temperatures. – Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Taking into account the similarity in terms of some symptoms, the only way to make sure if you have pharyngitis or covid-19 is by performing a test, either PCR or antigen. In any case, it is key to adopt preventive measures such as isolation and the use of face masks to avoid infecting other people.

Similarly, if the person had contact with a positive case of coronavirus, it may be a sign that the symptoms developed correspond to covid-19 and not to pharyngitis. However, it is valid to confirm the diagnosis with a test.

Treatment for sore throat

MedlinePlus reviews some recommendations to relieve a sore throat. However, it is suggested to consult with a medical specialist before starting any treatment.

Some recommendations are:

  1. Drink soft liquids.
  2. Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon or 3 g of salt in 1 cup or 240 ml of water).
  3. Sucking on hard candy or throat lozenges (not recommended for young children because they can choke).
  4. Use a cool air vaporizer or humidifier to moisturize the air and relieve a dry, sore throat.
  5. Some over-the-counter pain relievers work to relieve pain. Medical validation is suggested.

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