A sore throat is a common symptom of an upper respiratory infection such as a cold or flu. It’s also a symptom of a bacterial infection commonly referred to as strep throat.

Mayo Clinic family medicine specialist Dr. Tina Ardon said determining which is the cause of the illness is important because, “Antibiotics simply won’t work for a viral infection.”

She explained that it’s more likely to be strep if there is no runny nose, coughing, or sneezing associated with the throat pain and, “Typically, if it’s strep throat, you’re only going to have symptoms related to the back of the throat: fever, maybe a headache and then the sore throat.”

Your health care provider can perform lab tests to confirm if it’s strep throat and offer antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. Ardon added that plenty of rest and warm, soothing liquids will help.