What is wrong with my throat?!
December 15, 2014 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a doctor appt tomorrow but just wanted to ask if this sounds serious enough to merit worry or if it's no big deal. I have a sore throat on the left side of my throat only, and the lymph node in my neck is swollen on that side as well. In fact the whole left side of my neck hurts...

...but I have none of the usual symptoms that accompany sore throat (coughing, sneezing, runny nose, etc). I am not hoarse. It doesn't hurt to talk. It DOES hurt to swallow. My only other symptom is extreme tiredness with no apparent cause. All this just started on Saturday and I felt perfectly fine before. To my knowledge, I have not been in contact with any sick people.

I have to travel across the country next week to visit family for the holidays and am worried this is going to put a damper on those plans even though I already booked plane tickets and everything. Sigh.
posted by Librarypt to Health & Fitness (26 answers total)
I've had several cases of strep, and one case of tonsillitis that presented like this. Sucks, but the good news is that you start feeling better pretty quickly after starting antibiotics. If it's one of those things, the doctor should be able to diagnose it quickly and you'll likely be feeling much better this time next week. In the meantime, drink lots of water/hot tea (I know it hurts, but it helps!).

So yes you might be sick, but almost certainly not seriously sick. You'll probably be loads better soon.

Feel better!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

This is pretty normal. And it should resolve before next week. For sure see your doc, in case it is strep, so you can get the prescription and clear it up before you travel.

Happy Holidays!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:29 PM on December 15, 2014

Congratulations, you have strep!
posted by DarlingBri at 1:30 PM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also possibly a quinsy or peritonsillar abscess, with the single-sided thing. Dealing with it early is good. The thing about those is that they can potentially be dangerous--but the danger comes in people who're just like "oh my throat just hurts, it'll go away" and don't do anything about it.
posted by Sequence at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2014

Sounds like me when I'm coming down with a cold or virus. My mum would always check our lymph nodes for swelling to see if we were ill as children. Mightn't be anything serious, and could well develop into more normal symptoms in a couple of days. Good to go the dr anyway to rule out anything serious.
posted by mymbleth at 1:35 PM on December 15, 2014

My son had your symptoms just this morning and the pediatrician tested him for strep and he was positive. You can get this test done even at CVS walk-in clinics if you can't get to your doctor at short notice. If you have strep you will be given antibiotics to take for a week or 10 days. Don't take this lightly, strep can be serious. (I'm told.)
posted by Dragonness at 1:37 PM on December 15, 2014

And remember, take all your meds, even after you feel better!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yikes. I've never been worried about sore throats before, but the fact that this one is only on the left side of my throat made me panic a bit (yay hypochondriacs). Hope I can get it cleared up before I go.

Thanks all.
posted by Librarypt at 1:41 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've got an appointment to see your doc tomorrow, so you've got the situation under control. I don't think you're going to make things worse by not going to the ER immediately (i.e. to my IANAD knowledge, there are not deadly sore throats that kill you in your sleep, or awful cascades of infection to which the doctor will say "if only we'd seen you 18 hours ago!")
So long as you're comfortable enough to swig some nyquil and sleep tonight, just wait to see the doctor tomorrow. Strep clears up quickly, viruses less so, but you'll be ok in a couple of days and totally fine in under a week.
posted by aimedwander at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW: For a little while, I seemed to come down with strep throat every year around spring break. More than once, I was sick for a few days, then took an antibiotic (penicillin is the one I remember) and traveled the next day. It all worked out fine; I recovered and I didn't spread it around, either. Good luck and feel better!
posted by magdalemon at 1:46 PM on December 15, 2014

Agree that this could be strep, which is pretty easily taken care of with a course of antibiotics. It could also just be how this season's cold virus is manifesting itself. In any case, it is fine to wait until tomorrow to see your doc.
posted by bedhead at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2014

For what it's worth, this is pretty much always how I get colds: one tonsil at a time.
posted by Acheman at 1:56 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, I have had strep and tonsillitis that presented exactly like this (of course, my symptoms with Mono were pretty similar as well, but no need to go there yet).

Till you see the doctor, it may help to do a salt water gargle periodically:
A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
posted by gudrun at 2:07 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

N-thing likely to be strep, which I have had twice in my life. It's that time of year.
posted by aught at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2014

Have you had mumps?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another thing to consider is mono, with the tiredness. Do you have any other swollen glands?
posted by platypus of the universe at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2014

If it makes you feel any better, I had precisely that situation for two weeks and then very abruptly got just completely smashed by a sinus infection last Wednesday.

I'm pretty sure it was so bad on the left side because that's the side I sleep on most during the night, so it's the side where all my sinus drainage runs down my throat while I sleep.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:39 PM on December 15, 2014

While it could be strep, most of my ordinary to miserable colds start exactly like this: no other symptoms except a raw, painful throat.

If I were you, I would take vitamin C and zinc, drink plenty of fluids, gargle with salt water like it was my job (but don't rinse or drink immediately afterward) and turn in early. If it is the start of a cold, you could head it off.
posted by girl flaneur at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2014

This sounds very much like what my doctor just called an infected lymph node, which I had this summer. Ten days of antibiotics took care of it.
posted by worldswalker at 3:38 PM on December 15, 2014

Sometimes I get a sore throat on one side and it turns out to be a huge tonsil stone. Gross.
posted by apricot at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2014

there are not deadly sore throats that kill you in your sleep, or awful cascades of infection to which the doctor will say "if only we'd seen you 18 hours ago!"

For the record, there absolutely ARE deadly sore throats and awful cascades of infection that can kill within a day or less. (As a historical example, witness the fascinating tale of the death of George Washington, which occurred just 215 years and 2 days ago, coincidentally)…. They are rare but they exist. Concerning symptoms for serious causes of sore throat include difficulty swallowing (NOT just pain with swallowing - that's every sore throat, I'm talking about actual inability to swallow, particularly inability to swallow one's own saliva), signs of systemic illness like fevers and chills, any significant throat or mouth swelling. If the single tonsil on the side that hurts is significantly enlarged compared to the other side, that's concerning for a peritonsillar abscess, although those can range from serious to mild/easily treatable.

Awful cascades of infection that I have seen kill young and healthy people within a day include intra-abdominal infections that result in intestinal perforation, pneumonia (i.e. bad MRSA or influenza pneumonias, for example), and bacterial meningitis. Anyway. What you describe sounds like a quite typical sore throat, could be strep, could be something else. Strep does typically cause tender/swollen lymph nodes in your neck as a hallmark, and does not usually include respiratory symptoms. Entering the symptoms you describe into the calculator for the Centor criteria gives you an 11-17% probability of strep (you don't describe swelling of your tonsils or white stuff/exudates on them, so I left that one as 'no'). That's not quite so important, but I do think it's important that people not take away from this question that "there are no deadly sore throats or infections that can kill you quickly" - there certainly are, but people who have them also have severe and concerning symptoms, a mild to moderate sore throat on its own is not a sign of a scary disease.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:21 PM on December 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

I had these symptoms, the doctor gave me a course of strong anitibiotics and it cleared the infection. See your doctor.
posted by w0mbat at 9:37 PM on December 15, 2014

I was thinking a tooth may be infected.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:40 PM on December 15, 2014

Response by poster: In case anyone's interested: I tested negative for strep. No fever, still no signs of a cold. She said my left tonsil looked a little swollen and that my left lymph node in my neck was very swollen. She just gave me a script for antibiotics to take in case it isn't better by the time I need to travel.
posted by Librarypt at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I get swollen nodes periodically too. In fact, since yesterday evening it's been the right side of my throat that has been slightly swollen. Same symptoms as you - slightly swollen lymph node, no coughing/sneezing/etcetera, no hoarseness. It just hurts to swallow, and in my case I have a very, very slight temperature increase - this is my normal whenever I start to get even a little sick.

Your doc will be able to give more advice. It's not necessarily strep - but if this isn't your normal then you should voice your concerns to your doctor. S/he can give more information.
posted by Urban Winter at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2014

Unfortunately it's kind of the time of year for feeling crummy. I hope your throat gets better soon and you have a good trip to your family!
posted by aimedwander at 5:55 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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