Sore Throat vs Cough vs Fever
May 15, 2017
Oh no, you or your child is not feeling well and has a sore throat, cough or fever. What are you going to do now? The first thing should be to determine exactly what is ailing you or your loved one. Fortunately, this can often be done at home although do note that sometimes going to a walk in clinic or urgent care center may be the best plan as a medical professional is going to be able to more accurately determine exactly what the issue is. However, there is a bit that you can do on your own.
A sore throat usually leads to a painful dryness and irritation in the throat, sometimes so significant that it can make swallowing any type of food or liquids an incredibly painful or even impossible situation. The affected person can also experience a hoarse voice, swollen neck glands or develop white patches on their tonsils. Although a sore throat can happen to anybody, they do tend to occur more often to children and anybody who have a compromised immune system or allergies or who regularly smoke.
It is important to note that a simple sore throat and strep throat are very different illnesses despite having similar symptoms and, more importantly, respond better to different treatment methods. The main difference is that those with strep throat tend to experience additional symptoms such as headaches, a fever, rashes or loss of appetite. So, a sore throat could be an indication of strep throat.
If you or a loved one simply has a sore throat and not strep throat, the methods for curing it are simpler. Drink fluids as best as you can while avoiding or limiting drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol as those can dehydrate you, which is the last thing that you want to experience while suffering from a sore throat. Lozenges can help too, but don’t provide them to children 4 or younger. Humidifying the air is helpful too. If you do not have access to a humidifier, rest in or near a humid bathroom or kitchen.
Of course, the best defense is a good offense. In order to better your chances of ever contracting a sore throat, wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizers when necessary and regularly clean devices such as telephones and computer keyboards. Doing all of these things is even more important while traveling.
A cough is the body expulsing air and possibly mucus, fluids or other materials from the lung airways. This process of building up to a cough starts when cells located there get irritated. Of course, we all cough from time to time and can even do it on cue, but when it starts becoming a regular occurrence is when you should consider that it may be part of an illness that you have contracted.
One that will not go away is usually part of an illness such as a cold, the flu or whooping cough or due to chronic issues like asthma, bronchitis or allergies to pollen or other things. The first thing you should do when treating a cough is determining what the illness is that is causing it and get that taken care of. However, regardless of what is causing it, the treatment methods for this aspect of the illness do tend to be pretty similar.
Staying hydrated does quite a bit of good as coughs usually result from postnasal drip. Drinking non-caffeinated liquids and being in humid environments like a steamy shower or a humidified room help thin the mucus in that postnasal drip, causing you to cough less often as a result. Taking menthol cough drops can numb the throat a little, which will decrease your coughing reflex. Also make sure that the air you are breathing is as clean as possible with no scented sprays and smoke.
Of course, if none of those methods are helping, consider seeking professional help to determine exactly what the cause is and how to best treat it so that it does not continue to be such an issue or worsen. This is especially important to do if you are coughing in such a way that it is affecting your sleep or you are experiencing chest pains.
You can always feel your child’s forehead or your own and see if it feels warmer than it should be. Then again, this is not a very accurate method of doing so, and you should always have a thermometer around for situations like these, which are usually unexpected.
The average normal body temperature for a person is 98.6 degrees while anything between there and 100.4 degrees is nothing to be too concerned about. However, if the temperature you are reading is above that latter figure, then you need to move into action. The situation is especially urgent if it’s 104 degrees or higher. At temperatures that high, you may experience convulsions or delirium.
A fever is the result of your body building up its army to fight a disease of some type. Simply raising the body temperature will be enough to kill off a number of disease-producing organisms. Of course, that benefit may mean that you might not want to fight the fever and attempt to lower it, especially if it is not that much above 98.6 degrees. A walk in clinic can help you determine the best plan to take.
If reducing a fever is the best route to take, a number of methods can be undertaken to do that. Placing cool towels over the head or taking a cold bath will help. So will drinking cold drinks. Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help control any pain you will be feeling as well as reduce that fever. Avoid taking aspirin for this purpose unless told to do so by a health care professional.
Regardless of why you have a fever or what treatments you may be using to treat it, make sure to keep hydrated as a fever does tend to dehydrate the body more than would otherwise be the case.
If you have all three of these symptoms – sore throat, cough and a fever – you likely have a cold or the flu. Strep throat is less likely since a cough usually does not accompany that disease although you could still have strep throat but be coughing for an unrelated reason. Regardless of what illness you or your loved one is suffering from, make sure to get to an urgent care center if the symptoms become particularly severe.