it is. The triple seasonWith increasing cases covid, FluAnd RSV, so waking up with a sore throat can be very shocking. Do you have one of these dangerous viruses? Sore throat? Just a cold?

“When you first wake up with a sore throat, it’s hard to know if you have a bacterial infection or a virus without direct testing,” says Dr. Barbara B. Bauer, MD, a family medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. middle. It could also be to blame for things like allergies, acid reflux or lack of humidity in your bedroom.

Ask yourself the following questions to help solve the problem.

Does it go away after I take a shower or drink a warm drink?

A sore throat on its own could indicate covid or strep, or a bad cold. But if the discomfort persists, viruses and strep are the main cause, says Dr. Mark Russo, M.D., an otolaryngologist at MedStar Health in Washington, D.C.

A sore throat in the throat, especially if it occurs regularly, can be caused by irritation caused by dry air; If so, a dehumidifier in your bedroom while you sleep should help, along with a steamy shower when you wake up. Warm tea is also a good idea, says Bauer. “The heat helps soothe the throat by relaxing muscles, stimulating saliva and lubricating the throat,” she says.

Allergies Another common culprit is; They can cause post-nasal drip, which means extra mucus drips down and irritates your throat while you sleep. Rousseau recommends seeing an allergist or trying to see if an over-the-counter allergy medication will make a difference.

So can obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops for several seconds at a time during the night, Russo says. If your partner complains that you snore loudly, or if you feel tired most of the day despite being in bed for eight solid hours, you should check with your primary care physician or a sleep specialist.

Another option is acid reflux, which when it occurs chronically, is known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). A sore throat can be caused by stomach acid backing up into your throat. You may also have a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) or a dry cough, says Bauer.

Research has shown that the transition from sleep to wakefulness is associated with an increase in GERD symptoms in some patients Get out of bed as soon as possible It can help you once you get up. Also, try to eat a little light food in the evening and keep your head up while sleeping. If these simple strategies don’t work, talk to your doctor about medication.

Do I have other symptoms?

If your sore throat is accompanied by fever, mucus, or congestion, you are almost certainly dealing with some type of infection. Colds often come with body aches and fatigue; Covid can be accompanied by cough and fatigue as well as loss of taste and smell. RSV mostly affects children, Bauer says, but if you catch it, you can develop symptoms (fever, sore throat, and runny nose) when you sneeze yourself.

If it’s bacterial rather than viral (such as covid, flu and RSV) no way Congestion or cough. Instead, you may have a fever, red or white spots on the back of your throat, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.

Strep is the only one of the worms mentioned above that requires antibiotics. If it’s covid (a home test should resolve it quickly) or the flu (your doctor can test you for), you may be a candidate for antiviral medication. Otherwise, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take pain/fever medicine as needed.

Gargling with salt water, sucking on lozenges and popsicles, drinking tea with honey, and using a lozenge can especially help ease your sore throat, says Bauer. In the meantime, she recommends avoiding foods and drinks that are acidic, such as fried foods, orange juice, coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods.

Should I stay home or not?

If you don’t have any other symptoms of an infection—and your sore throat gets better later in the day—you’re probably (but not definitely) in the clear. To play it safe, “If you’re contagious, if you have a sore throat, I recommend wearing a mask,” says Bauer, who also recommends coughing or sneezing into your elbow and washing your hands regularly.

This story is featured in the beginning Fortune.com

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