Sore Throat

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View The Anatomy of a Sore Throat Slideshow

Quick GuidePictures of Common Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

Pictures of Common Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

What are home remedies to soothe a sore throat?

There are various remedies that can be used at home to help soothe a sore throat, including:

  • Gargling with warm saltwater (1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) and then spitting it out.
  • Drinking warm liquids (such as caffeine-free tea, water with honey, or warm soup broth) or eating a popsicle or ice cream.
  • Using a humidifier to moisten dry air.

If the sore throat is caused by infection, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and to rest in order to prevent dehydration and to allow your body to properly recover.

What over-the-counter (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?

Most cases of sore throat are caused by a viral infection, so 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.

However, 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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015
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