Is my sore throat a sign of COVID-19?

woman searching covid-19 sore throat symptoms

When you’re clutching at your throat because it feels raw, scratchy and painful, and it hurts just to swallow, all you want is to feel better. Along with “why me?,” you’re likely asking yourself, is this part of a cold?; strep throat?; or worse–a sign of coronavirus? Below, we walk you through some possible causes for sore throat, and the specific symptoms to watch for. During the pandemic, it’s important to pay attention to your health and to know when to seek care.


Common Causes of Sore Throat

  1. Cold and Flu: The common cold and seasonal influenza share many symptoms, including that dreaded sore throat. If you’re suffering from a cold or the flu, you may also experience fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. Colds are usually milder than flu, and are more likely to include a runny or stuffy nose. Protect yourself with an annual flu vaccine, and know we are here to provide care if you do become ill.
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  3. COVID-19: Like the common cold and flu, COVID-19 is a viral, respiratory illness that can indeed cause sore throat. However, sore throat doesn’t seem to be a particularly common symptom of the novel coronavirus. One study, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), found that out of more than 55,000 confirmed cases, only 13.9 percent of people reported a sore throat. Get a COVID-19 test if you’ve been around someone who tested positive, or are exhibiting other COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, difficulty breathing, and/or fever, along with chills, muscle pain, headache, and any new loss of taste or smell.
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  5. Strep throat: Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils, caused by streptococcal bacteria. Look for red, swollen tonsils and throat; white spots or streaks on the tongue or back of your throat; and swollen lymph nodes in your neck. Strep throat can also make it difficult to swallow and cause headache, fever and chills. An in-clinic strep test or throat culture can determine if group A strep is the cause of your sore throat. If so, our providers can prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.
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  7. Allergies: When your immune system overreacts to a foreign substance (e.g. a food, drug, chemical, animal dander, or pollen), it can trigger an allergic response. Severe reactions are possible, but for common allergies, you’ll likely experience itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, cough, congestion and headache. A post-nasal drip can lead to an allergy-induced sore throat.


When you need care and advice for sore throat symptoms, our urgent care is here for you.

Halloween in the Time of COVID-19

halloween during covid-19 - sanitizer station sign at pumpkin patch

For many kids (and adults!), Halloween is a highly anticipated holiday full of friends, frights, and, of course, treats. However, as Halloween approaches this year, many families are reconsidering their annual traditions in the face of a global pandemic. With the safety of gathering for parties or trick or treating in question, we’ve come up with some ideas to make the holiday extra special – and safe – for the entire family.

Keep it clean, keep it distanced

Many of the same common sense health safety tips we use every day apply on Halloween: Wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and carry hand sanitizer.

Incorporate your mask into your costume

With so many retailers now selling masks, you can find a mask to match almost any costume! Or, you can purchase simple white masks and let your kids decorate them with fabric pens (paint isn’t recommended, as it can make the mask less breathable). Or try tie-dye for a colorful alternative.

Have a virtual costume party with friends and family

You can dress up, make halloween treats, and meet your friends and family on Zoom for a virtual party. Host a costume contest with virtual prizes, such as gift cards.

Have a Halloween scavenger hunt in your own house or yard

If you plan to stay home on Halloween, consider coming up with a candy scavenger hunt – hide treats all around your house or yard and let your little ghost or goblin loose to find it all. They’ll get the thrill of collecting candy without having to leave home!

Trick or Treat safely

If you live in an area with lower COVID rates, or if you are comfortable with trick or treating, you might still be heading out to knock on doors, or you may be manning the door to hand out candy. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  1. Wear a mask, whether you’re trick or treating or handing out candy
  2. Carry hand sanitizer and use it between houses/trick or treaters
  3. If you get to a house and there are other people already at the door, stand back and give them space. This might mean waiting on the sidewalk until they pass.
  4. If you are handing out candy, think about ways to give out candy without getting too close. You can pre-package goodie bags and leave them on a small table 6’ from your front door, and greet children from inside when they approach. Consider leaving a bottle of hand sanitizer out for people to use as they approach.
  5. Consider creating a one-way path for trick or treaters coming to your house – they can approach using the path to your front door and leave via the driveway.

Whatever you decide to do, Halloween can still be fun for the whole family. For more tips and information about whether certain activities are high- or low-risk, please visit the CDC’s Holiday page.

Common Fall Health Concerns

woman playing with fallen leaves - fall health concerns

As summer gives way to fall, we’re met with colorful leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin spice-flavored everything. But harvest and holidays aside, the season’s cooler temps, indoor gatherings, and shorter days also instigate unwanted autumn ailments. Below, we discuss common fall health concerns, and what you can do to prepare for and prevent illness.

Airborne Illness

Cold, dry weather makes it easier for airborne viruses, such as those behind cold and flu, to spread. And while more research is needed, emerging data suggests that cold and dry conditions may also facilitate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many viruses have a gel-like coating made of fats and oils called lipids. In cold weather, this lipid coating hardens, protecting the virus and allowing it to survive longer in the air, and spread more easily. To make matters worse, cold weather can dry out nasal passages, leaving sinuses vulnerable to infection. Additional factors such as spending more time indoors in close quarters and lack of sunlight also increase the risk of illness.

To prevent airborne illness, continue following the public health advice you’ve learned during the pandemic: Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds; Avoid contact with people who have active symptoms of disease; Stay home when you’re sick; Wear a mask in public settings; Don’t touch your face.

Vaccines can also reduce your chances of getting some airborne diseases. The CDC urges everyone 6 months and older to get annual flu shot. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asthma

If you or your child suffers from asthma, you may notice that symptoms worsen in the fall and winter. Cold, dry air can irritate and inflame airways, increasing the likelihood of having an asthma attack. Cold air can also trigger your body to produce histamines, which in turn cause wheezing and other asthma symptoms. Try to limit time outdoors when the temps drop. And when you do go outside, wear a mask or scarf over your face to warm the air you breathe in. Talk to your doctor to come up with a plan to manage your condition through the cold weather months. If you need asthma advice, acute treatment, or medication refills, our urgent care center is here for you.

Arthritis Flares

Cold weather can exacerbate joint pain and stiffness, and lead to arthritis flares. A flare is a period of increased disease activity or worsening symptoms – a time when the medications you normally rely on to control your disease don’t seem to work. A cold front or rain storm may cause a drop in barometric pressure, which in turn, causes your joints to expand.

To prevent aches and pains this fall, make sure to dress warmly. Pay special attention to your head, hands, and feet, as the majority of heat loss occurs from the body’s extremities. It’s also important to stay active. Exercise is a valuable tool in arthritis relief, as it increases strength, improves flexibility, and reduces joint pain. Plan indoor exercise routines that are easy to stick to. If you need advice or help managing symptoms of an arthritis flare, our friendly medical team is here for you.


We hope these tips help you prevent and prepare for season-specific issues. Remember, we offer fast, affordable treatment for these common fall health concerns, along with many other injuries and illnesses.

Care for Insect Bites and Stings

image of bee on flower with text "fast care for insect bites and stings

As COVID-19 concerns and closures continue, many of us are looking to nature for our entertainment this summer. Socially-distanced outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and camping, are an excellent way to stay safe and still make the most of the season. But whether you’re heading into the backcountry or spending a day at the local lake, more time outside means an increased risk for insect bites and bee stings. Mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, bees, wasps, spiders and scorpions can all cause adverse reactions, ranging from minor annoyances to life-threatening conditions.

Common Symptoms of Insect Bites & Bee Stings

  • Swelling at bite site
  • Rash
  • Itching

Call 911 or head to the ER if you notice:

  • Hives
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or tongue swelling

While severe allergic reactions are possible, you can usually treat bites and stings on your own. Follow these general steps:

  1. Use an insect repellent to deter mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
  2. Move to a safe place. If you’re stung and are near a wasp nest or bee hive, retreat to an area where you won’t get swarmed.
  3. Use antiseptic soap to clean the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  4. Use a cold compress or ice to reduce swelling, and relieve pain and itching.
  5. Remove stingers or ticks as quickly as possible.

Think your bite or sting may be more serious? Head into our urgent care.

If you’re suffering from a mild to moderate reaction after a sting or bite, know we are here 7 days a week and you never need an appointment. Our medical team is prepared to evaluate your wound and provide the appropriate care, from infection treatment and irrigation to stinger and tick removal. If lyme disease is suspected, we can prescribe the necessary antibiotics. Get fast, convenient care for bites and stings today.

Everything You Need to Know About Sunburn

kids under beach umbrella to prevent sunburn

Despite our best intentions and precautionary measures, sunburn accidents happen. Just a little too much time in July’s harsh UV rays or a hastey sunscreen application can leave you suffering with red, painful skin. Below, we offer info on the symptoms, treatment, and risks of sunburn.

Sunburn Basics

A sunburn is an inflammatory reaction of the skin caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Symptoms generally set in about 4 hours after sun exposure, and include:

  • Red, swollen, and painful skin
  • Skin that feels itchy or warm to the touch
  • Blistering
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration

Pain worsens and peaks 24-36 hours after sun exposure. Skin peeling may occur 3-8 days after exposure.

When to Seek Care

Most sunburns are mild and can be treated at home. Take a cool bath or use cold washcloths to soothe your skin and calm the burn. Keep the affected area moisturized by applying a gentle lotion to damp skin. If it is safe for you, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin, can help ease pain and reduce swelling. Topical 1% cortisone cream and aloe vera can also provide relief. Wear loose clothing and remember to drink plenty of water.

For more severe sunburns, our urgent care center is here for you. Visit our clinic if you experience:

  • Severe sunburns –with blisters– covering more than 15% of the body
  • Sunburn accompanied by high fever (>101°F), nausea, chills, dehydration, and/or confusion
  • Signs of infection (draining pus, red streaks, worse pain after day 2)
  • Extreme pain that persists for longer than 48 hours

Understand The Risks

People with fair skin tend to burn most easily, but anyone can get burned. Even if you tan rather than burn, or have a dark skin type that doesn’t redden, overexposure to the sun can cause cellular damage. Skin damage from sun exposure leads to premature aging and skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood can double your chance of developing melanoma in your lifetime! It’s also important to note that skin damage is cumulative, which means it builds over time. Each sunburn increases your risk of cancer.

Take steps to prevent sunburn. Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Daily Sun Protection Guide to learn how, and know that our friendly medical team is here when you need care and advice!