When to worry about a sore throat?

A sore throat is most commonly is caused by viral infection. A sore throat caused by viral infection, usually lasts five to seven days and doesn’t require medical treatment.

Less commonly, a sore throat may be caused by a bacterial infection, and in those cases, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. This is referred to as “Strep Throat” since it is usually caused by Group A streptococcus.

Why is it important to diagnose and treat a strep throat correctly?
If not treated correctly, the chances increases of the Group A Streptococcus to later induce an autoimmune disease in humans with particular involvement of the heart, joints, and brain.

Which signs could give you a hint, that a sore throat is caused by bacteria rather than viruses, which might indicate the need for treatment with antibiotics ?

The Centor criteria is commonly used by medical doctors. It judges patients (above 15years of age) on four criteria:

– Fever (usually above 101°F or 38,5°C)
– Absence of cough (and runny nose)
– Swollen and tender lymph nodes on the neck
– Tonsillar exudates, visible upon inspection of the throat.

The fact that two ore more of these symptoms are present, indicates a higher possibility of bacterial infection and therefore, commonly a throat swab is performed for a rapid antibody test or culture to determine the causative agent.

Lets not forget the children. They have considerably higher incidence of “Strep throat” than us, adults.
They can not be assessed by the Centor criteria. Children’s symptoms are often non-specific and therefore there is an even greater reason to seek medical attention in such cases.


Let’s not forget that medicine is not always so simple. Sore throat might also be caused by other infectious agents, Ebstein Barr Virus, Tumors or other, and that is why we remind you of our terms of use:
This material is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.