Home » Blog » Fever with throat pain – when to ask for an ENT specialist’s opinion?

Before understanding about fever with throat pain lets look at what is a fever.

Fever with sore throat? Know when to consult the ENT specialist
Fever with sore throat? Know when to consult the ENT specialist

What is a fever?

Fever doesn’t have a standard definition as the temperature depends on the method of measurement. In India, the most common type of thermometer is that measures the skin temperature by contact with the skin. Other ways measure oral or rectal temperature by the contact method. Infra-red thermometers became common in public places after the onset of COVID pandemic to account for communicable nature of the disease.

Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) defines fever as temperature measured more than 38.3° C or 101.0° F for more than two days. In practice, treatment of fever can start as early as a temperature of 100.0° F in the presence of associated symptoms like malaise, throat pain and cough.

What is a sore throat?

Sore throat is a common term used for any irritation or pain in the throat. It may be associated with pain from swallowing or a change in voice. Inflammation in the pharynx – like inflammation of the tonsils, lymphoid tissue in the base of tongue, swelling of the uvula, soft palate, epiglottis, nasopharynx (space behind the nose) can all lead to a sore throat.

When to consult an ENT specialist?

Common colds caused by rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial and corona virus usually last about 3-5 days. They resolve without any intervention with adequate rest and hydration. Over the counter drugs such as paracetamol can help with mild fever associated with the same. One should ask for an ENT doctor’s opinion if one or more of the following conditions are true:

  1. Temperature > 101.0° F
  2. Persistent fever > 2 days
  3. Discoloured yellow-green sputum with cough
  4. Severe pain on swallowing leading to inability to drink or eat – a risk factor for dehydration
  5. Neck swelling associated with fever
  6. Reduced hearing, ear pain or ear discharge that starts a couple of days after the fever.
  7. Severe headache associated with fever, facial pain and pus like nasal discharge.

What not to do for a fever with sore throat or common cold?

Do not self medicate with antibiotics. 

Sore throat and common cold are usually caused by viruses and antibiotics will not help. Paradoxically, indiscriminate use of antibiotics for a sore throat and cold kills all the good bacteria in the throat and gut and leaves the patient defenceless against a secondary bacterial and fungal infection.

Do not drink alcohol as medication.

Alcohol makes the dehydration worse, can suppress the respiratory centre and increase reflux which can be a contributing factor in sore throat.

Do not smoke cigarettes/hookah and cigars.

Smoke damages the ciliated epithelium of the nose, sinuses, trachea and lungs which makes it difficult to clear out the sputum.

Best practices for treating an uncomplicated fever with sore throat or common cold at home

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids like warm water, tea, soups to rehydrate
  • Gargles with warm salt water help reduce the pain in the throat.
  • Steam can help unblock the nose and sinuses but not everyone can tolerate it and should be done safely to avoid steam burns.
  • Rest. There is nothing like too much sleep when recovering from a viral infection.
This article was written by Dr Akanksha Saxena, Consultant ENT, Head & Neck Surgeon, ENT360. She is a practising ENT Specialist in Gurgaon with over 10 years of experience. Read more of her blogs here.