August 11, 2014 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I currently have a ridiculous amount of pain in my throat (now for a week) with no other symptoms. Went to urgent care (while on vacation) a few days ago and was told I had a virus and to take ibuprofen and tylenol which doesn't seem to help at all. Can't see my primary doctor until tomorrow or maybe the next day.

Urgent care also did a strep test culture (negative). It's currently very difficult to eat or drink anything- even water is excruciating. Should I go back to a different urgent care today? And what should I tell them to get more help than before? The pain seems to be localized to one side of my throat. What are my options wrt pain management?
posted by dilaudid to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
That really sounds like strep. Sometimes it doesn't show up on the quick swab. Call your primary care doctor and ask the nurse if they can call in antibiotics. If not, then yes, go to another urgent care.
There are over the counter throat sprays that can numb your throat. Look for one of those. Drink hot tea. You may also try gargling with salt water but that has never helped me a bit. I hope you feel better soon!
posted by myselfasme at 12:28 PM on August 11, 2014

Larger Walgreens and CVS pharmacies will have minute clinic type things that can give you a strep test as a walk-in if you think the first test may have been a false negative.
posted by phunniemee at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2014

Sorry I should have mentioned- I went to a minute clinic as well as an urgent care, both did strep quick tests and 24 hour cultures, both negative.
posted by dilaudid at 12:31 PM on August 11, 2014

Can you either not talk, or restrict your talking for a day or two, if that causes it to flare up?

I had a really sore throat one weekend, and I just decided to do the nuclear option - get a pad and paper, and write everything down for any and all transactions. It was slow, but I was able to get my point across, and my throat got some much needed healing time.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:31 PM on August 11, 2014

Soluble aspirin or lidocaine spray are useful in these situations, for topical relief.

Your note that the pain is on one side is concerning - I don't mean to be alarmist but read up about peritonsillar abscess. If your voice changes, you develop a fever or you start feeling a lump in your throat go back to urgent care or the ER straight away.
posted by goo at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had luck with Aspergum (basically aspirin-containing gum) and anaesthetic sprays like Cepocal or Chloroseptic (compare the active ingredients, and get whatever has the highest amount of benzocaine). Neither will fix the problem, but they'll make the symptoms more bearable.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I had something like that earlier this year, which eventually turned into coughing and brochitis and an ear infection. Hopefully yours won't progress past the throat soreness. I will say that a sore throat can unfortunately last longer than you might expect. I also had soreness on just one side, and the pain was intense for a while, though it soon subsided in my case.

If you're desperate, a doctor might be able to give you a steroid to help ease it. I just ate tiny spoonfuls of honey and drank as much as possible, and waited it out.
posted by three_red_balloons at 12:45 PM on August 11, 2014

Pain in one side of the throat can mean an infection of the tonsils, the tissues near the tonsils (Peritonsillar Abscess, mentioned above,) or of a lymph node. It is also common in cases of mononucleosis, where the lymph glands become inflamed -- when I had mono as a teenager, the pain was much worse on one side.

Infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Mono is a viral illness, so no antibiotic.

Tylenol may help with the pain.

Chloroseptic works quickly to numb the throat but also wears off quickly.

If you have a humidifier or vaporizer, consider running it. Increasing the moisture content in the air can help.
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I find the numbing lozenges to work better than the sprays. I know Cepacol makes them.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:55 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had something similar, and it ended up being (as far as I could tell) a sinus infection, with a constant (though small) stream of stuff dripping down my throat causing the irritation. Have you tried nasal irrigation, etc.
posted by lab.beetle at 1:01 PM on August 11, 2014

Find out which specific strains of strep were cultured for. My friend's culture negative ridiculously painful throat infection turned out to be caused not by strep A but by strep G.
posted by KathrynT at 1:02 PM on August 11, 2014

Pro-tip: the little tiny travel bottles of Chloraseptic are much easier to hold in such a way as to spray the back of your throat rather than your tongue and teeth.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:03 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a really severe sore throat last year - couldn't believe how much pain I was in, couldn't sleep, it was that bad. It eventually led to bronchitis, so the coughing didn't help either. Here's what helped along with antibiotics and hardcore cough suppressant (both doctor prescribed from the pharmacy):

1) Gallons of the hottest Throat Coat tea I could stand with fresh honey.

2) As much gargling of salty hot hot water I could stand. If possible, every hour. Strangely, this is what helped numb the pain the most and worked the quickest for lessening the pain.

3) A microwavable throat wrap.

4) Different versions of Chloroseptic - it helped, but wasn't immediate relief.

5) Don't talk.

For this reason, I found an electric kettle saved my life with the amount of tea and hot water I needed to ride through those 2 weeks of agony.
posted by HeyAllie at 1:27 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Localized to one side of the throat certainly doesn't sound like strep, but IANAD.

Definitely make an appointment with your doctor. Tell him/her that you went to urgent care and minute clinic and both did two strep tests and all four came back negative.

Avoid talking, drink lots of tea, and use Chloraseptic or similar throat spray.
posted by tckma at 1:37 PM on August 11, 2014

I find the sprays really awkward. When I had mono and couldn't get anything down due to razor blade throat, doctor wrote me a prescription for a 'throat gargle', which was essentially no-name Chloroseptic that I could gargle instead of the horrid spray and gag and pain cycles. Numbed me enough to not starve/dehydrate.

(also lesson from experience: ice cream is about as easy as it gets for trying to get food down, but do your digestive tract a favour and include some oatmeal down for fibre. Especially if this lasts a while.)
posted by platypus of the universe at 2:34 PM on August 11, 2014

Dude, your name is eponysterical.

I like the topical throat sprays for cases like this. I use steroids for severe sore throats in my patients sometimes. If you're culture negative, it's very unlikely to be strep. Believe it or not, there are tons of other bugs that cause sore throat aside from strep, but the vast majority don't require antibiotics.

If your throat pain is getting worse or you are actually unable to swallow (i.e. spitting out saliva etc), you should go to the ER rather than urgent care and see a physician. Are you taking maximum doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol?

By the way, throat pain is called pharyngitis rather than esophagitis.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:42 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Could be a type of herpes , one sided pain.
posted by hortense at 3:09 PM on August 11, 2014

One other idea- I think you can get prescription lidocaine mouthwash, which numbs your throat (same as numbing gel dentists sometimes use on sensitive gums).
posted by three_red_balloons at 4:15 PM on August 11, 2014

Is there any chance it could be silent acid reflux? It can present with throat pain and very few (or no) other symptoms.
posted by Occam's Aftershave at 4:33 PM on August 11, 2014

Good point re: silent acid reflux. And if you are prone to sleeping on one side, that might explain the location.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:50 PM on August 11, 2014

I had severe (omg I'm a grown ass woman and I wanted to cry) one sided throat pain that moved into my ear. I thought I had ruptured something from coughing as I had been sick prior to this. When I went into the doctor and she said it was allergies, I was way allergies could hurt like that, and while I've had mild allergies, never anything bad enough to go to the doctor for. Plus, I had already tried Claritin for 2 weeks and it didn't help.

They gave me an allergy shot and within 4 hours, I was better...that after a full month of off and on pain. It wasn't the allergies that were causing the pain but the constant post-nasal drip was destroying my throat.

You might try some Nasacort for a couple of days and see if it improves...that's what I'm using now every couple of days to keep the allergy symptoms at bay.
posted by kattyann at 5:45 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It does sound like strep but it could also be allergies and/or acid reflux, which can both cause a painful level of post-nasal drip.

Go get some over-the-counter antihistamines (loratadine) and acid controllers (famotidine) and take them tonight before bed and see how you feel in the morning before deciding whether you need a doctor.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:14 PM on August 11, 2014

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