Could That Sore Throat Be a Sign of COVID-19? It's Possible, Though Fairly Uncommon

A mildly sore throat may not have been cause for concern before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but with everyone carefully watching for signs that they could be carrying the virus, it's only natural that it would raise a red flag now. Though fever, cough, and shortness of breath were the earliest reported hallmarks of the virus, the Centers For Disease Control has expanded its list to include a wide range of symptoms, including sore throat.

Though there are no definitive clinical studies on the novel coronavirus (because that's simply not possible yet), the New England Journal of Medicine's collection of data includes a number of examples in which patients experienced a sore throat. A report from South Korea showed that some patients in that area reported a sore throat with COVID-19. A patient observed in Taiwan developed a sore throat on the fifth day of symptoms, and a 33-year-old businessman in Germany also counted a sore throat among his symptoms.

But while there's evidence that a sore throat could be an early sign of the disease, "approximately only 10 percent of patients with COVID-19 experience a sore throat, making this a rare symptom compared to other more prevalent findings in symptomatic patients, including fever, dry cough and shortness of breath," Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told POPSUGAR.

He recommends keeping an eye out for other symptoms in addition to a sore throat, including "runny nose, loss of smell and taste, body aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea." While you're monitoring the sore throat, you can use throat lozenges and acetaminophen to ease the discomfort, Dr. Mehdizadeh explained — and you should stay hydrated, too. Also, "continue to practice COVID-19 precautions, including hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and social distancing," he said.

Because the severity of symptoms varies from person to person, it's important to consult your healthcare provider if you're concerned you may have COVID-19. Dr. Mehdizadeh advises calling ASAP if you experience any of these symptoms, specifically: "fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, worsening pain, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, neck swelling, blood in the saliva, tightness of the jaw, or prolonged throat pain lasting more than five days."

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.