Doctor: sore throat could be a sign of something worse

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A word of warning from a UAB professor about sore throats.

"When you have sore throat, it's a sore throat. But if you come back in sick, I want you to take it much more seriously," said Dr. Robert Centor, professor of Internal Medicine, Associate Dean of Medicine at UAB.

The weather is cold and miserable and it's also closer to cold and flu season which means a sore throats and a lot of doctor visits. However, Dr. Centor says there could be other causes of sore throats other than group-a Strep, including a bacteria which could cause a major problem.

"Bacteria causes a syndrome," Dr. Centor said. "Lemierre syndrome has a death rate of about five percent."

The key symptoms include, if a patient between the ages of 15 to 24 years old, continues to feel sick beyond five days after receiving treatment, swelling on one side of the neck, fever and chills.  

Over at the UAB Student Health Service Center, Dr. Centor's comments come as quite a surprise.

"There are those we treat with antibiotics who don't get well," said Dr. Michale Faircloth, Student Health Service, UAB. "Until today, this is something we didn't think about. You definitely need to have it in the back of your mind."

Dr. Centor is advising doctors to consider blood tests if a sore throat does not clear up. A combination of antibiotics, penicillin and metronidazole or clindamycin will work.

"The good news is antibiotics are simple, straight forward antibiotics."Centor said.

Centor also hopes his paper and analysis leads to better testing for the disease.