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Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections usually have a
very sudden onset. You went to bed
fine, then out of nowhere you wake up
feeling like death.
Symptoms of bacterial infections can
occur within hours of each other.
High grade fever (greater than 101F)
Sweats and chills

Bacterial vs. Viral Infections/Illnesses

Bacterial infections usually have

localized symptoms i.e. a specific
part of the throat hurts, rather than
just the general area
Symptoms also tend to be unilateral
only one side is affected (only the
right sinus hurts, etc.)
Pain associated with bacterial
infections is usually much more
severe than vial infections
Pain tends to be sharp
If the chief concern is a sore throat,
bacterial infections of the throat more
often than not present with pus
Pus pockets can appear on or near the
tonsils, and in the back of the throat
they look like white or yellow spots,
about the size of a pimple head
Mucous associated with bacterial
infections tends to be green or yellow,
and very thick


Often, but not always, bacterial

infections tend to be more
debilitating. Throat is so sore/swollen
you cant swallow, you can barely get
out of bed, etc.


Bacterial infections can be cured with

antibiotics, though some bacterial
infections are harder to treat than
others (drug resistance, etc.)


Viral Infections
Viral infections tend to have a gradual
onset. One day you feel a little funny,
maybe you have a tickle in your throat,
then after a few days you have a sore
throat and feel sick.
The onset of symptoms can take days.
Low grade fever (99-101F) EXCEPT the
flu, which can present with higher
Viral infections have more diffuse
symptoms (i.e. whole throat hurts)
Viral infections tend to be bilateral (i.e.
right AND left sinuses hurt)

If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics

usually cause symptoms to die down
within a day. People often feel much

Pain associated with viral infections tends

to be milder when compared to bacterial
Dull pain
Pus pockets are generally not present in
viral infections of the throat, but they can
The presence of pus pockets does not
necessarily rule out viral infection

Viral infections usually present with

thinner, clear mucous, though mucous
could be colored
Absence/presence of color/thickness is not
enough to rule out viral infection
Viral infections tend to be less severe than
bacterial infections. These tend to be
sicknesses where you can still get up and
go to school, work, etc., if you have to
without feeling TOO bad. This is not
however, a rule, but a generality. Viral
infections can be quite
There is no cure for viral infections you
just have to wait for your bodys immune
system to take care of the virus. What you
can do, is treat the symptoms, and do all
you can to make sure your immune
system is as strong as it can be (getting
plenty of rest, drinking fluids, eating good
meals, etc.)
In certain cases, for serious viral
infections, anti-viral medication can be
used as treatment. These medications do
not rid the virus from the body like
antibiotics do, but rather reduces the
impact of the virus on the body, and
consequently, the associated symptoms.
Usually ranges from one week to even
months (think of mono).