Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) (cont.)

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What OTC medications will soothe a sore throat?

There are various over-the-counter medications that can help soothe a sore throat. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) are analgesics that can provide pain relief. These medications can also serve to reduce fever if your sore throat is caused by infection. Avoid aspirin in children and teenagers, as it has been associated with a serious illness called Reye's syndrome.

Throat lozenges and analgesic throat sprays can also be beneficial for some individuals with a sore throat. If your sore throat is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), OTC medications such as antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can help relieve symptoms. If you have allergies or postnasal drip that is causing your sore throat, OTC antihistamines and decongestants may provide symptom relief. If you have a cough that is causing your sore throat, an OTC cough syrup may help diminish the cough.

Zinc lozenges have been found to decrease the duration of symptoms in patients with colds.

Are antibiotics necessary for a sore throat?

The need for antibiotics depends on the underlying cause of the sore throat. If your sore throat is being caused by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, then you do require a course of antibiotics to resolve the infection. You must complete the full course of antibiotics prescribed, even if you are feeling better after a few days.

However, because most cases of sore throat are caused by a viral infection, the use of antibiotics in these situations is not needed. Antibiotics will not have any effect on a viral infection, as it will need to run its course and your body's natural defenses will typically clear this type of infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/18/2013

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Sore Throat - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms of sore throat and how long did they last?
Sore Throat - Home Remedies Question: What home remedies were helpful with the symptoms of sore throat?
Sore Throat - OTC Remedies Question: What OTC remedies were helpful with the symptoms of sore throat?
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