About 90% of sore throats (pharyngitis) are caused by simple viruses (see Differences Among Germs). There’s no treatment except regular pain medicine, they get better on their own. We diagnose a “virus” if any 2 of the following hold true:
- No fever
- No pus on the tonsils
- No swollen glands
- Runny nose or cough is also present
Curiously, sometimes a virus in the throat can cause ear pain without a sore throat. That’s because the nerves to the throat may crisscross with nerves to the ear.