Dear Ask The Doctor: So I have had a really bad sore throat for three days so far. I do not have any other cold or flu symptoms, although I have been sick 4 times since November.I woke up this morning to find that I was spitting up blood. I went to the school health center on the first day I had the sore throat and the nurse said my tonsils looked fine. There are no white spots or anything in my mouth either, but it is extremely hard to swallow. What should I do? Oh and I don't have health insurance right now because I can't afford it.
Dear Patient: Pharyngitis (sore throat) is probably the leading cause of office visits year round. While the majority of cased are viral (~80%) and respond with rest, fluids and time; 20% of infections are bacterial and require antibiotics for treatment.
When health care practitioners examine the throat on the first day, it can very difficult to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections. If a throat swab was not done on the first visit, often practitioners rely on failure to improve as an indication of bacterial infection. Other signs include high fever and discharge on the tonsils. Spitting blood can be an indication of viral or bacterial infections.
If your infection has failed to improve after 48-72 hours, I would have it reaccessed by a doctor and enquire if antibiotics may be right for you.