Throat Problems

Throat pain and mouth sores, along with other cold and flu symptoms, are common problems. This chart will direct you to the appropriate care.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Do you have a fever?

  • Do you have body aches, headache, cough, or runny nose?

  • Are you vomiting or do you have nausea or diarrhea?

  • When you look at the back of your throat, do you see white patches on your tonsils?

  • Do you have a persistent cough or are you coughing mucus?

  • Is the person a child with a harsh barking cough?

  • Do you have small, open sores on your tongue, inside your lips, or on the sides or back of your mouth?

  • Is the skin in your mouth peeling, and are your tongue and gums swollen and red?

  • Do you have white patches and redness on your tongue or on the sides or back of your mouth?

  • Does your tongue look like the outside of a strawberry? Do you also have fever?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You probably have a COLD or FLU.


    Self Care

    Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. Children should be given non-aspirin medicine (acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen) for the fever. Do not give cough/cold medications to children under 5 years. If the cold lasts longer than two to three days, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a STOMACH VIRUS (GASTROENTERITIS).


    Self Care

    Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Use an anti-nausea and/or antidiarrheal medicine. See your doctor if symptoms get worse, if they last longer than a week, or if you become dehydrated or can’t keep liquids down.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have STREP THROAT or MONONUCLEOSIS (MONO).


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    These symptoms may be from BRONCHITIS, PNEUMONIA, or POST-NASAL DRIP.


    Self Care

    These illnesses need prescription treatments. See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Is the person a child with a harsh barking cough (sounds like a seal)?


    Self Care

    A dry barking cough often means a viral infection called CROUP or, less commonly, EPIGLOTTITIS, which is an emergency.


  • Diagnosis

    These sores are called CANKER SORES or APHTHOUS ULCERS. They usually occur by themselves or potentially with stress or other viral illnesses.


    Self Care

    Most of these sores will heal in 7 to 14 days. Use an anesthetic spray or an analgesic medicine. If the sores are severe, last longer than expected, or are accompanied by other symptoms, see your doctor for a prescription for dental steroid paste.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be from TRENCH MOUTH, an infection of the gums, teeth, and other tissues. A rare drug reaction, STEVENS-JOHNSON REACTION, may also cause this.


    Self Care

    See your dentist or doctor. Poor dental hygiene may lead to this disease. Brush your teeth and floss as recommended by your dentist. Use over-the-counter pain medications to relieve discomfort.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have ORAL THRUSH, a yeast infection in your mouth.


    Self Care

    This may be a simple infection, or it may come from another, more serious illness. You may be able to control the infection by eating unsweetened yogurt (with live cultures) or taking acidophilus. This may help restore normal bacteria in your body. See your doctor if it returns or doesn’t go away.


  • Diagnosis

    In children, this can be KAWASAKI DISEASE, a condition that can also affect their heart.


    Self Care

    See your doctor immediately or take your child to the closest emergency room or call an ambulance.


  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


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