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Dr. José Alfíe on Identifying & Treating Throat Congestion

In this interview, we speak to Argentinean pediatrician, Dr. José Alfíe, about throat congestion.

After completing his medical studies in 1983, Dr. José Alberto Alfíe worked as an intern for 12 months before becoming a resident at one of the most noteworthy hospitals in Argentina, de niños Ricardo Gutierrez

During his time as a resident, Dr. Alfíe was promoted to Chief Resident for 1 year before becoming a Resident Instructor, a role he maintained for 5 years. Soon after, he transitioned into the role of Director and pediatrician at a leading clinic in Buenos Aires – Dr José A.Alfie consultorio de pediatría . Today, the clinic assists over 6,000 patients every year.

Over and above running the clinic, Dr. Alfíe helps run a local NGO program, Campaña pediátrica Super Sanitos, which provides medical assistance to underprivileged children in the north of Argentina. In some instances, the program even flies children into Buenos Aires for treatment.

We sat down with Dr. Alfíe to discuss a common ailment experienced by both children and adults, and to get some tips for tourists planning a trip to Argentina.

Our doctors often treat patients for throat congestion. What exactly is it and how are the symptoms different to a sore throat caused by COVID-19?

I often treat children for throat congestion, which is mainly caused by different viruses and sometimes by streptococcus.  To determine whether a sore throat is caused by COVID-19 or other causes of throat congestion, we look at any accompanying symptoms. If the sore throat is accompanied by a fever, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea, it’s probably COVID-19. Even more so if there is a loss of smell and taste.

It should be noted that in some instances, throat congestion can cause fever too – it depends on the virus.

Whether you are dealing with throat congestion or COVID-19 though, know that both are contagious.    

What are the best ways to treat throat congestion?

A proper diagnosis is the first step. I generally start with a SWAB test for COVID 19 and we can also add a strep test for strep bacteria. Throat congestion can usually be treated with just painkillers, but if the patient doesn’t improve, antibiotics could be the next step.

Have you found that you’re starting to see more international patients at your practice or is it predominantly locals still?

I have seen a significant increase in telemedicine appointments because patients don’t want to be around others who are ill if they can help it. We currently treat a number of locals who have moved from Argentina to neighboring countries, mainly through virtual consultations. With that being said, I still book more in-person consultations than virtual ones. 

Are there any common ailments tourists should be aware of if they’re planning a trip to Argentina?

Argentina is mostly safe, but if you are planning to head up north of the country close to the border with Paraguay and Brazil, it’s important to take preventative measures against mosquitoes. This is because yellow and dengue fever has become a problem in recent months in this area. A yellow fever vaccine may be recommended.

Other than that, rather stick to drinking bottled water whenever possible and if your family will be indulging in Argentina’s world-famous meat, make sure your children only eat meat that’s well done. 


Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.