Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you or your child has a sore throat, make an appointment with your family doctor or your child's pediatrician. In some cases, you may be referred to a specialist in ear, nose and throat (ENT) disorders or an allergy specialist (allergist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you or your child has had, and for how long.
  • Note any recent, possible sources of infection, such as a friend or family member with a sore throat or a cold.
  • Write down key medical information, including any other health problems and the names of any medications you or your child is taking.
  • Write down questions for the doctor.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For sore throat, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is the most likely cause of these signs and symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • What tests are needed?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • How soon do you expect symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • How long will this be contagious? When is it safe to return to school or work?
  • What self-care steps might help?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • How can other health conditions best be managed with sore throat?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions as they occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions about you or your child. Your doctor may ask:

  • What symptoms have you had besides a sore throat?
  • When did these symptoms begin?
  • Have these symptoms included a fever? How high?
  • Have you had trouble breathing?
  • Does anything worsen your sore throat, such as swallowing?
  • Does anything seem to make the symptoms better
  • Is a sore throat a recurring problem?
  • Do you smoke? Are you or your child regularly exposed to secondhand smoke?
  • Do you have allergies? Do you take allergy medication?
  • Do you have any drug allergies?

What you can do in the meantime

If you or your child has a sore throat, try these steps.

  • Keep your hands clean, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't share personal items.
  • Gargle with 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water also may help.
  • Rest, drink fluids, eat soft foods and take pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to help ease symptoms. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
May. 07, 2013