How Long Do Viral Throat Infections Last?

The duration of the viral throat infection depends on the underlying factor causing it. These throat infections tend to be acute and cures as soon as the throat infection is taken care of. Read here the causes of throat infections, the duration of the infection in the throat, and what to do about it.

What Are The Causes of Viral Infection In The Throat?

The primary cause of an infection in the throat is a viral invasion. The common viruses that can cause throat infection are as follows-

  • Influenza viruses that cause flu and the common cold including head and chest cold as well as season flu
  • Virus due to which “Mononucleosis” develops
  • Coxsackievirus which is responsible for painful throat infection known as herpangina

What Are The Symptoms of Throat Infection Due To Viruses?

Symptoms Due To Common Cold are-

  • Soreness in the throat
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • White spots on the tonsils
  • Mild soreness along with swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck

Symptoms Due To Flu are-

  • Soreness in the throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough
  • Fever

Symptoms of Tonsillitis Due To Viral Throat Infection-

  • Swelling of the tonsils
  • White patches on the tonsils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Bad breath
  • Stomach pain
  • Stiff neck

Symptoms Due to Herpangina are-

  • Soreness in the throat
  • Fever
  • Sores on the throat, tongue or roof of the mouth that are painful
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the stomach, neck, arms, and legs

Symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis are-

  • Fever
  • Feeling fatigued for a very long time more than 1 week
  • Swelling of the tonsils
  • White patches on the tonsils and throat
  • On the roof of the mouth, there are red spots
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck
  • Red rashes on the chest or whole body

How Long The Viral Throat Infections Will Last?

The effect of viral infection lasts as long as the virus stays in the body. Usually, viral infections can stay from 10 days to 2 weeks. However, if the infections are due to the Epstein- Barr viruses responsible for Mononucleosis, then they can stay longer. Throat infection due to mononucleosis viruses tends to last for one month. These infections are more serious in adults.

What Are the Other Causes of Throat Infection?

Apart from the viruses, there can be other causes that can lead to a throat infection. Bacterial invasion is another cause of throat infection. For instance, Streptococcus responsible for strep throat continues to stay in the body for a week to 10 days. Once the antibiotic treatment is started, the patient is able to feel better within one or two days. Ultimately, the symptoms should disappear within a week or less.

There can be throat infections due to chronic postnasal drip also. There can be continuous postnasal drip due to common cold, sinusitis, acid reflux, and exposing yourself to irritants such as cigarettes, air pollutants, and allergens. In such cases, the infection stays until the underlying condition remains untreated.

What Is The Diagnosis of Viral Throat Infection?

Sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate between a bacterial infection and viral infection in the throat. When there is a bacterial infection such as Strep throat, it can become difficult to eat anything. Doctors can make the proper diagnosis after checking the patient physically and reviewing the symptoms. For confirming the diagnosis, they can take a throat swab.

What Happens When Viral Throat Infections Are Left Untreated?

Leaving a throat infection due to viral attack untreated for long is not wise. Delaying the appropriate treatment leads to dehydration, ear infections, viral/bacterial pneumonia, tonsillitis, or other respiratory infections. In the long term, it can lead to diabetes, asthma, or heart failure.

What Are The Home Remedies To Treat Viral Throat Infection?

The viral infection cure on its own. Meanwhile, there are some home remedies that can help in providing relief from the symptoms.

  • Gargle with saltwater
  • Frequently sip on warm beverages and drink lots of fluids
  • Take honey to get relief from sore throat. However, don’t give honey to children who are below 1 year of age.
  • Do not smoke or breathe secondhand smoke.
  • If you have a fever, take aspirin or acetaminophen to curb it. Make sure you don’t give aspirin to children as these are blood thinners.
  • Take over-the-counter medicines only after talking to your doctor
  • Take ice chips, popsicles or medicated lozenges
  • Breath clean and moist air with a clean humidifier
  • For symptoms of diarrhea, drink clear liquids such as water, juice, tea throughout the day.
  • Eat soft food such as cooked rice, khichdi, mashed potatoes, etc.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and dairy products or even spicy food for a couple of days.

When To Visit The Doctor?

If the infection stays for more than 10 days, visit the doctor. For bacterial infections, doctors prescribe antibiotics. Also, the patient experiences the following symptoms, it indicates something more serious. Some of the symptoms to look out for are-

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

In case the throat infection has led to tonsillitis, an ENT specialist may suggest taking the tonsils out surgically.