Is sore throat a common COVID-19 symptom?

by Glenn Wortmann, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at the MedStar Institute of Quality and Safety
August 5, 2020

While we continue to learn more about COVID-19, there’s still a lot we don’t know. But it’s important to stay up-to-date on basic information related to COVID-19 symptoms so that you know if and when you need to seek medical care.

Is sore throat a common COVID-19 symptom?

A sore throat can be a sign of COVID-19, but it’s not common. A study in China reported that only 14 percent of 55,000 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 experienced a sore throat. Everyone’s body reacts differently to the virus, so while it’s possible to have a sore throat as a symptom of COVID-19, it’s more likely that you’ll have other symptoms.

While sore throat can be a symptom of #COVID19, it’s uncommon. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Wortmann shares what you need to know about COVID-19 and sore throat on the #LiveWellHealthy blog: https://bit.ly/39Y9x46.

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What are common COVID-19 symptoms?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness so it commonly results in symptoms similar to that of the common cold, such as:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

Unlike the flu, COVID-19 symptoms appear gradually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Many people who become infected have mild to moderate symptoms that last around a week. And, some people with COVID-19 don’t experience any symptoms at all.

Aging adults or those with underlying health conditions are at a greater risk of experiencing more severe COVID-19 symptoms, but anyone can become seriously ill—even younger people. Severe COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of smell or taste

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and it’s symptoms, we may discover new information about what symptoms develop and when.

Related article: Learn how COVID-19 compares to the flu.

When do COVID-19 symptoms appear?

COVID-19 symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus. Because it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to appear, many people may not realize they have it. And, some people don’t experience any symptoms from COVID-19. That’s why it’s so important to self-quarantine if you think you may have been exposed, even if you don’t feel sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends staying home for 14 days to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others.

How do I know if my sore throat is related to COVID-19?

It can be hard to determine what is causing a sore throat. A sore throat could be a symptom of lots of other illnesses, including allergies, strep throat, or other infections. The best way to know if your sore throat is related to COVID-19 is to be on the lookout for more common symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

How can I treat a sore throat at home?

Whether or not your sore throat is a symptom of COVID-19, there are a few things you can do at home to ease your pain. To relieve irritation due to a sore throat, you can try:

  • Gargling warm salt water
  • Drinking warm tea
  • Sucking on throat lozenges
  • Using a humidifier
  • Taking over-the-counter medicines (e.g. Tylenol)

When should I seek medical care for a sore throat?

In some cases, you may need to seek medical attention for a sore throat. If you have a severe sore throat that worsens or makes it challenging to swallow, consider using MedStar eVisit to talk to a doctor virtually. During a virtual visit, a doctor will ask you questions about your sore throat to determine when and where you should seek in-person medical care.

What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?

According to the WHO, most people can recover from COVID-19 at home. In fact, 80% of people who become infected with the virus recover without needing medical care in a hospital.

If you have mild symptoms, such as a light cough, you can probably ride out the virus at home. Be sure to quarantine, taking precautions to limit exposure to family members in the same household. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you think you have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • Staying home
  • Avoiding any public area or transportation
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated
  • Resting and taking over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol, to reduce discomfort
  • Separating yourself from family members by staying in a separate room
  • Wearing a facemask over your nose and mouth if you are around anyone in your home
  • Washing your hands often
  • Cleaning high-touch surfaces every day
  • Monitoring your symptoms

If you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Get the care you need, now.

It’s important that you don’t delay your medical needs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our region, MedStar Health has made innovations to ensure we are still the best and safest place to receive care.

We have worked hard to make sure we can provide the care you need in the most appropriate and safe setting. MedStar Health Video Visits are still options for a variety of appointment needs, but in some cases, an in-person visit may be best. We’re here to help you get the right care that reflects your needs and comfort level.

We’re open and prepared to safely offer the same high-quality care you expect from MedStar Health, when you are ready to see us.

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COVID-19 Information

Category: Living Well     Tags: covid-19COVID-19 symptomsMedStar eVisitMedStar HealthMedStar Health Video Visitssore throat