Student Health/Cheney International Center Building
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2130
TTY: (307) 766-2132
Fax: (307) 766-2711
Many other factors including cigarette smoking, allergies, hay fever, or drainage down the back of the throat from your sinuses can cause a sore throat.
College students get upper respiratory infections, or common colds, often. Sore throat is one of the most common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Factors related to close living quarters (college dorms are a good example), classroom conditions, stress, and lifestyle explain why college students get colds so often. Only about 10% of sore throats are caused by a bacterial infection, such as streptococcus (strep), which might require treatment with an antibiotic. Most sore throats are caused by a viral infection (the common cold) and are unaffected by antibiotics. Most often, sore throats require no medical attention and resolve with self-care measures (listed in What else can I do?).
What should I do first when I notice that I have a sore throat? When you first notice a sore throat, do the following:
What else can I do?
In addition to increasing fluids, many other self-care measures can ease the pain of a sore throat including:
A sore throat can be due either to a bacterial illness or a viral illness. Here is a comparison of signs and symptoms of bacterial vs. viral causes of sore throat.
Is it Viral or Bacterial?
Runny and/or stuffy nose
Do antibiotics help?
An accurate way to differentiate bacterial and viral cause of sore throat is to have a strep test done. Rapid Strep screens are available through University of Wyoming Student Health Service without an appointment for a nominal cost. This is an on-site test requiring a swab of secretions from your throat. Results are available within a few minutes. If the test is positive, antibiotic therapy is usually prescribed. If the strep test is negative, a clinician or nurse will review self-care measures with you. Again, most sore throats are caused by viral infection and will resolve with time and the self-care measures listed above under What else can I do?
Only bacterial infections will respond to an antibiotic. Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection that may treated with an antibiotic. Sore throats due to a viral illness usually resolve without an antibiotic in 7-10 days.
For more information on strep throat, go to the
American Academy of Family Physicians website
National Institute of Health website on throat disorders