Sore Throat Symptoms

How long should a sore throat last?

How long your sore throat lasts depends on the cause. If your sore throat is caused by a viral infection it may last four to five days. If the cause is bacterial (such as strep throat), antibiotics may be prescribed and symptoms may resolve two to three days after starting treatment. You should finish all prescribed antibiotics, even if you feel better before they are finished

Sore throats are common, and you've probably experienced a few. Symptoms you may have with a sore throat include:

  • painful swallowing,
  • fever,
  • headache,
  • abdominal pain,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • swollen glands in the neck,
  • white patches of pus in the back or sides of the throat,
  • small red spots on the roof of the mouth, and
  • swelling of the uvula.

What about infants and toddlers with sore throats?

If your infant, or toddler has a sore throat, it is most often caused by viral infections that do not require medication. Your child will usually feel better within a week to 10 days. Strep throat is uncommon in children under 3 years of age, but if your child has strep throat it needs to be treated with antibiotics.

If your sore throat lasts longer than 10 days, you should see your doctor to determine the cause. Chronic sore throats may be due to a number of other causes including:

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Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine


UpToDate. Patient information: Sore throat in adults (Beyond the Basics).

UpToDate. Patient information: Sore throat in children (Beyond the Basics).