- Treating Sore Throat
- Sore Throat Remedies That Actually Work
- 1. Warm and cold fluids.
- 2. Gargling
- 3. Over-the-counter antihistamines and pain relievers
- 4. Steam and humidity
- 5. Hot toddy
- 6. Rest
- Two home remedies for sore throat to avoid
- When to see a doctor about throat pain
- Sore throat treatments
- Analgesic medicines (painkillers)
- Sore throat lozenges, sprays and solutions
- 12 Natural Remedies for Sore Throats
- 12 Natural Remedies for Sore Throat — How to Cure a Sore Throat Fast
- Sore throat (pharyngitis)
- What causes a sore throat?
- Sore throat symptoms
- Sore throat diagnosis
- Sore throat treatment
- Self-care of a sore throat
Treating Sore Throat
Treating Sore Throat
Sore throats lasting longer than a week require medical attention.What Causes Sore Throat?
Sore throat (also called pharyngitis) is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection. An estimated 200 to 300 different strains of virus cause colds and sore throat.1 In up to 90% of cases, sore throat is caused by viruses linked to the common cold or flu. The other 10% of cases result from bacterial infections or some other medical condition. The bacteria that most commonly cause sore throat are streptococci. Infection with streptococcal bacteria is commonly called strep throat.
Sore throat can also be caused by irritants such as air that is low in humidity, smoking, air pollution, excessive yelling, postnasal drip caused by allergies, and breathing through the mouth. Injury to the back of the throat and stomach acid backing up into the throat and mouth are other causes of sore throat.2
Although sore throat affects people of all ages, children aged 5 to 15 years, smokers, allergy sufferers, and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk.3,4
Sore Throat Symptoms
Sore throat symptoms are easily recognized. Your throat hurts and is irritated, swollen, or scratchy. Pain increases when you swallow. You may also have tenderness in your neck. Other symptoms that are commonly associated with sore throat are listed in Table 1.3,5,6
If your sore throat is due to a virus, it should go away within 7 to 10 days. When a person has strep throat, however, throat pain starts out gradually and quickly becomes severe and constant. Swallowing may be difficult. You may also have a fever of 100°F or higher. Symptoms worsen at night.
3,4,6 Strep bacteria can lead to other conditions such as infection of the tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, or middle ear, as well as various inflammatory illnesses.
2 Seek immediate medical help if your symptoms include drooling, an inability to swallow, difficulty opening your mouth, difficulty breathing, redness or swelling of the neck, swollen lymph nodes, bleeding from the throat, or a fever higher than 101°F.7
Unless sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not prescribed. Antibiotics do not kill viruses—the most common cause of sore throat—and have no impact on symptoms. Using antibiotics unnecessarily creates strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Without antibiotics, 85% of patients will be symptom-free within about 1 week.8 Table 24,7,9 lists recommended strategies for managing sore throat pain. If your symptoms do not improve within a week, contact your doctor.
If your doctor believes you have strep throat, he or she may do a rapid antigen strep test, which determines whether you have a strep infection.
This test provides results within minutes but is not always accurate. Therefore, your doctor may also take a throat culture, which is considered more accurate, and send it to the lab for testing.
Test results are usually available within 24 to 48 hours.6
Antibiotics are effective in treating bacterial infections. Penicillin is the most common antibiotic prescribed for strep throat. If you have a penicillin allergy, your doctor may prescribe erythromycin. Your doctor most ly will give you a 10-day supply. It is critical that you take all of the medication even if your symptoms subside or go away.
Soft stool and diarrhea are common side effects of antibiotics. Taking an OTC antidiarrhea agent should minimize these side effects. Along with killing the bacteria that cause strep throat, your doctor will focus on preventing complications from the infection.
For example, untreated strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever, which causes heart damage along with kidney problems.10,11
People with bacterial infections remain contagious for approximately 24 hours after they begin taking antibiotics. Consequently, if you have strep throat, it’s important to limit your contact with other people until you are no longer contagious. Table 33,6,7,12 lists recommendations for preventing sore throat.
Endnote Up to 90% of all sore throats are caused by viruses and clear up within a week. Those with a sore throat lasting longer than a week should seek medical intervention. Dr. Zanni is a psychologist and health-system consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia.
Sore Throat Remedies That Actually Work
Your poor, sore throat. Is there anything that can help? Family medicine doctor Daniel Allan, MD, shares the most effective home remedies for a sore throat, along with those that don’t work as advertised.
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1. Warm and cold fluids.
The skinny: Sip on warm drinks, such as tea or chicken soup. (It’s not just for the soul!) Or try cold liquids, such as ice water or popsicles.
Doctor’s advice: Liquids help clear mucous membranes, keep things flowing and prevent sinus infections. Warm temperatures may also reduce coughs by soothing the back of the throat. Try both warm and cold to see what works best for you.
The skinny: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt — or a similar amount of baking soda — in a glass of warm water. Gargle (but don’t swallow) the concoction every three hours for an all-natural sore throat remedy.
Doctor’s advice: Salt water can help reduce swelling and irritation in your throat. Baking soda also soothes the throat, breaks up mucus and can help with throat-irritating acid reflux.
3. Over-the-counter antihistamines and pain relievers
The skinny: An antihistamine may dull or relieve the throat pain. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen also help with pain that’s located a little deeper in the glands and other parts of the neck.
Doctor’s advice: Histamines are chemicals that help your immune system fight foreign substances. But sometimes they go overboard, triggering symptoms (such as congestion and post-nasal drip) that can make a sore throat feel worse. Antihistamines can counteract this overreaction.
4. Steam and humidity
The skinny: Take a hot shower. When it gets really steamy, breathe in the magic.
Doctor’s advice: Steam loosens mucus and can moisturize and soothe a sore throat.
5. Hot toddy
The skinny: A hot toddy is a drink combo made with water, whiskey, honey and lemon juice and served hot. Some people add spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.
Doctor’s advice: Hot toddies can be very soothing. Here’s why:
- Honey coats your throat and soothes it by reducing irritation. Honey also has antibacterial properties, and the sweetness can calm the throat’s nerve endings and reduce coughing.
- Whiskey (a small amount; too much can dehydrate you) breaks up and thins mucus. Whiskey also dilates the blood vessels on the surface of the throat, so immune cells in your blood can multiply and fight the infection.
- Spices stimulate saliva production, improving both hydration and mucus flow in your throat.
The skinny: Put your head on your pillow at a decent hour and close your eyes. Repeat as necessary.
Doctor’s advice: Don’t underestimate physically resting your body and voice. But beware: Lying flat can sometimes cause swelling due to an increase in pressure at the back of the throat. Instead, try elevating the bed or sitting propped up or in a chair to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Two home remedies for sore throat to avoid
Dr. Allan warns that not all sore throat remedies are created equal. He recommends you pass on these two:
- Apple cider vinegar (“It probably has someantibacterial properties, but that’s not going to do much for the sore throatitself.”)
- Essential oils (“They haven’t beenwell-studied or clinically proven for safety or effectiveness.”)
And avoid things that can irritate your throat, including:
- Dry air.
- Acidic foods or spicy foods.
- Lying down immediately after you eat, especially if you have acid reflux.
When to see a doctor about throat pain
Dr. Allan says to use common sense when deciding whether to seek out medical care. Call a doctor if you:
- Have throat pain that’s severe, prolonged or not improving, or stretches into your ear.
- Have trouble swallowing, breathing or opening your mouth.
- Are coughing up blood or have blood in your saliva.
- Feel enlarged lymph nodes, or lumps, in your neck.
- Have white patches on the back of your throat or a rash, possible signs of strep throat or scarlet fever.
- Have a high fever.
- Lose your voice for more than a week or two.
And remember, when it comes to illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of hot toddies. Wash your hands often. And if you do get sick, Dr. Allan advises immediately replacing your toothbrush with a fresh, germ-free one.
Sore throat treatments
Sore throats often clear up in a few days, even without treatment. The infection that causes a sore throat is usually viral, and an antibiotic is of no benefit for viral infections.
Self-help measures, such as sucking ice, can help soothe the throat, and products from your pharmacist can help reduce the inflammation and ease the pain.
Most people do not need antibiotics for sore throats because most cases of sore throat are caused by viruses, which are not affected by antibiotics.
Antibiotics may be needed to treat some bacterial throat infections, such as group A streptococcal infection (strep throat). However, even among people who have a bacterial throat infection, not all will need antibiotics. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to whether antibiotics are needed.
Possible side effects of antibiotics include nausea, diarrhoea, headache and rash.
If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, make sure you complete the whole course, even if your symptoms clear up before you have finished the antibiotics. Failure to complete a course of antibiotics can cause the infection to spread or worsen. It also can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance in the community, where bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.
Analgesic medicines (painkillers)
Paracetamol, when taken regularly, is useful for treating the pain of sore throat. Paracetamol can also be used to treat any associated fever. Many cold and flu medicines contain paracetamol, so check the ingredients of any medicines that you take to ensure you don’t overdose on paracetamol.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are useful for treating pain and fever, but should be used with caution in people with stomach problems, indigestion and asthma because they may worsen these conditions.
Aspirin can reduce pain and fever, but it can cause stomach upsets. Also, some people with asthma are sensitive to aspirin. Aspirin should not be used in children under 16 years old, as it can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome in children.
Sore throat lozenges, sprays and solutions
Sore throat lozenges, sprays and gargle solutions are available at pharmacies. These medicines may contain:
- anti-inflammatory medicines; or
- local anaesthetic.
Some products contain a combination of ingredients.
Some of these medicines are not suitable for certain people (e.g. some antiseptics should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women). Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any of these medicines to make sure they are suitable for you and to check the side effects.
Local anaesthetic products numb your throat (and mouth), so when taking these products you should be careful not to eat or drink hot food because this may result in a burnt mouth.
Take care with sweet syrups and lozenges, particularly in children, as the sugar content may cause tooth decay. Lozenges are not recommended for children younger than 4 years due to the risk of choking.
The following self-help measures can help relieve the pain of a sore throat:
- gargling a salt solution;
- sucking on ice cubes;
- drinking warm water with honey and lemon;
- resting your voice; and
- getting plenty of sleep.
1. Pharyngitis and/or tonsillitis (revised June 2010). In: eTG complete. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2012 Nov. http://online.tg.org.au/complete/ (accessed May 2013). 2. BMJ Group. Patient information: Sore throat (published 8 Jan 2014). http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/systematic-review/1509/background.html (accessed May 2014).3. NPS Medicinewise.
Medicines and treatments for a throat infection (updated 22 Jun 2012). http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/ear-nose-mouth-and-throat-disorders/ear-nose-and-throat-infections/sore-throat/for-individuals/medicines-and-treatments (accessed May 2014).
4. MayoClinic.com. Sore throat (updated 7 May 2013). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sore-throat/DS00526 (accessed May 2013).
12 Natural Remedies for Sore Throats
A sore throat refers to pain, itchiness, or irritation of the throat. Throat pain is the primary symptom of a sore throat. It may get worse when you try to swallow, and you may have difficulty swallowing food and liquids.
Even if a sore throat isn’t serious enough for a trip to the doctor, it’s still painful and may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, you can use at-home remedies to soothe the pain and irritation.
Honey mixed in tea or taken on its own is a common household remedy for a sore throat. One study found that honey was even more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants. Other researchshows that honey is an effective wound healer, which means it may help speed healing for sore throats.
Shop for honey.
Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat and break down secretions. It’s also known to help kill bacteria in the throat. Make a saltwater solution with a half-teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water. Gargle it to help reduce swelling and keep the throat clean. This should be done every three hours or so.
Chamomile tea is naturally soothing. It has long been used for medicinal purposes, soothing a sore throat. It’s often used for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent properties.
Some study reviews have shown that inhaling chamomile steam can help relieve symptoms of a cold, including a sore throat. Drinking chamomile tea can offer the same benefit. It can also stimulate the immune system to help your body fight off the infection that caused your sore throat in the first place.
Shop for chamomile tea.
Peppermint is known for its ability to freshen breath. Diluted peppermint oil sprays may also relieve sore throats. Peppermint contains menthol, which helps thin mucus and calm sore throats and coughs. Peppermint also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which may encourage healing.
Never use essential oils without mixing them with a carrier oil such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, or softened coconut oil. For peppermint oil, mix five drops of the essential oil with one ounce of the carrier oil of your choice. Never ingest essential oils.
Shop for peppermint oil.
While the saltwater gargle is more commonly used, gargling baking soda mixed with salt water can help relieve a sore throat as well. Gargling this solution can kill bacteria and prevent the growth of yeast and fungi.
The National Cancer Institute recommends gargling and gently swishing a combination of 1 cup warm water, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. They recommend using the rinse every three hours as needed.
Shop for baking soda.
Marshmallow root contains a mucus- substance that coats and soothes a sore throat. Simply add some of the dried root to a cup of boiling water to make tea. Sipping the tea two to three times a day may help ease throat pain.
People with diabetes should talk to a doctor before taking marshmallow root. Some animal research shows it may cause a drop in blood sugar level.
Shop for marshmallow root.
marshmallow root, slippery elm has a mucus- substance in it. When mixed with water, it forms a slick gel that coats and soothes the throat. To use, pour boiling water over powdered bark, stir, and drink. You may also find that slippery elm lozenges help.
Slippery elm is a traditional remedy for sore throat, but more research is needed. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it may decrease the absorption of other medication you take.
Shop for slippery elm.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has many natural antibacterial uses. Numerous studies show its antimicrobial effects in fighting infections. Because of its acidic nature, it can be used to help break down mucus in the throat and stop bacteria from spreading.
If you sense a sore throat coming on, try diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV in one cup of water and gargle with it. Then take a small sip of the mixture, and repeat the whole process one to two times per hour. Make sure to drink lots of water in between the gargling sessions.
There are many different ways of using ACV to treat sore throats, depending on the severity of the illness and also your body’s sensitivity to vinegar. It is best to first consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Shop for apple cider vinegar.
Garlic also has natural antibacterial properties. It contains allicin, an organosulfer compound known for its ability to fight off infections.
Studies have shown that taking a garlic supplement on a regular basis can help prevent the common cold virus. Adding fresh garlic to your diet is also a way of gaining its antimicrobial properties.
Your grandmother might have told you to suck on a clove of garlic to sooth a sore throat.
Because garlic has many healing actions, you might try this, though you may want to brush your teeth afterward to protect your teeth from enzymes and improve your breath.
Often used as a pain reliever, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural compound known for blocking pain receptors.
Although not scientifically proven, ingesting cayenne mixed with warm water and honey can help with pain relief for sore throats. Remember that an initial burning sensation is common. Cayenne should not be taken if you have open sores in your mouth. Start with just a few drops of hot sauce or a light sprinkle of cayenne, as both can be very hot.
Sore throats in infants and young children definitely aren’t fun, but the good news is that they’re rarely the sign of a medical emergency on their own. Still, treating sore throats may be different for infants and children. Here are a few tips and remedies:
- Add cool mist or a humidifier to your child’s room. Moisture in the air can help relieve pain from a sore throat.
- Keep children hydrated by encouraging them to drink as much as possible. Avoid juices or popsicles with lots of citrus.
- Children under 5 years should not be given hard candy cough drops or anything else that might pose a choking risk. Use caution when giving cough drops to children under 10 years.
- Don’t give honey to children who are younger than 1 year.
To prevent sore throat, stay away from people who are sick with an infectious illness the flu or strep throat. Wash your hands frequently. Try to avoid spicy or acidic foods, and stay away from chemical fumes or smoke that could cause inflammation.
When natural remedies just aren’t cutting it, there are several over-the-counter treatment options. Acetaminophen can be effective for sore throat, and it can be given to young children.
Over-the-counter options lozenges or numbing sprays can also provide relief. Other potential sore throat soothers include eucalyptus, which you’ll ly find in natural throat lozenges and cough syrups.
Herbs and supplements are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for quality, packaging, dosage, or safety. Also, the batches may be different from container to container. Lack of regulation means that each supplement might give you a different medicinal dose. Be careful using these remedies, and be sure to buy from a reputable source.
Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, whooping cough, and diphtheria, are responsible for only a small percentage of sore throats. Most doctors recommend calling a doctor only in cases of severe sore throat, such as sore throat with a fever or when swollen tonsils block the throat.
Trying out some of these natural remedies may help you feel better more quickly and save you a trip to the doctor’s office. To feel your best, make sure you also drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
12 Natural Remedies for Sore Throat — How to Cure a Sore Throat Fast
Mur Jito / EyeEmGetty Images
Everyone's familiar with that scratchy, itchy, painful-to-swallow feeling we know as a sore throat.
Some episodes of pharyngitis (the more technical term for the miserable condition) come with colds or the flu, while others stand alone to create your misery.
You probably have more than a few tricks up your sleeve for dealing with a tight, scratchy throat (Mom's chicken noodle soup, anyone?) but at what point should you reach for medicine?
Lee, MD, an assistant professor of otorhinolaryngology (the study of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat) in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says you should consult your doctor if your sore throat lasts for more than a week. “Other potential red flags include difficulty breathing or swallowing, drooling, trouble opening the mouth, facial swelling, stiff neck, [high] fever, persistent lumps in the neck, and prolonged hoarseness.”
Whether you're suffering through a cold or fighting seasonal allergies, there are a few time-tested natural remedies that you can try before running for the nearest clinic.
Our panel of doctors say that these tricks and tips may have you feeling better in no time. The best part? You probably have most of them in your kitchen already to save you a trip to the drugstore.
Even better, some home remedies give you good reason to revisit childhood joys. (Popsicles? Yes, please!)
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Some research shows that honey works better at relieving sore throats than a placebo and dextromethorphan, a common over-the-counter medicine. Not only does it give the throat a protective coating, it also has antibacterial properties.
“Honey contains a compound that is converted into hydrogen peroxide in addition to other antimicrobial compounds,” says Caroline Roberts, M.D., assistant residency director at UNC Family Medicine.
“However, children less than a year old should not be given any honey because of an increased risk of botulism.”
2 Frozen Foods
“This is your excuse to have ice cream,” says Joseph Ladapo, M.D., Ph.D.
, associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“Anything that’s frozen — ice itself, Popsicles, frozen yogurt — numbs the tissue and nerves and reduces pain.” Plus, who wouldn’t feel a little better after indulging in a treat?
“Warm drinks can be soothing for the throat,” says Dana Neutze, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at UNC Family Medicine.
“There is a small amount of evidence that herbal teas, including marshmallow root, licorice root, and elm inner bark help with pain, but the reason is not known.
“A popular research-backed one that combines all three is Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat. Ginger, sage, thyme, and chamomile teas may be worth a shot too.
4 Saltwater Gargle
There’s a reason your mom or grandma probably told you to do this. “A saltwater gargle helps with swelling and keeping the mouth clean,” says Monika Jindal, M.D., a physician at Denver Health. “Most recipes suggest ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water.” It’s totally safe (and easy on the wallet) to try several times a day while you’re in pain.
5 Chicken Soup
“Chicken soup is the most commonly prescribed home remedy for sore throat and cold symptoms,” says Dr.
Roberts, “and there is actually data to show it works by inhibiting neutrophil migration, the components inside your body which cause inflammation in your throat.
” However, she notes, the research hasn’t been performed on humans, and the homemade recipe used in the study worked better than store-bought kinds.
6 Warm Broth
If your appetite has all but vanished during your cold, a sore throat doesn't make it easier to force down a meal.
A good alternative to an empty stomach is sipping on warm soup stock of any kind, says Prianka Chawla, MD, Primary Care Physician at Tufts Medical Center. Store-bought varieties can be used in a jiffy, and just a warm cup of tea, Dr.
Chawla says it'll help soothe a dry throat while also giving you a bit of nourishment between meals. Try to source low-sodium varieties if possible!
7 Potato Poultice
Don’t knock this until you try it. “Cook potatoes and mash them, carefully wrap them in a cloth while they’re hot, then cover with a second cloth,” advises Andreas Michalsen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Nature Cure. “Apply to your neck and leave for a few hours.” It works a heating pad, stimulating circulation to the area.
“This is my personal remedy of choice, though it’s not a popular one,” says Dr. Neutze. “There is not much hard evidence beyond one small study, but it is thought that the allicin in garlic has antimicrobial properties.”
9 Apple Cider Vinegar
David B. Feller, M.D.
an associate professor within the Community Health and Family Medicine department at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, says there isn't any definitive research on just how apple cider vinegar manages to combat sore throats.
But he says he's noticed diluting this potent pantry staple in water and gargling may reduce swelling and other pain for his patients. Keep it to one tablespoon or less (it's potent, after all!) and mix it into a cup of warm water.
You should probably have a chat with your doc before you start taking supplements, but Dr. Roberts says there’s research supporting the use of zinc or elderberry to lessen symptoms.
“Another natural remedy which has data showing good benefit in treating sore throat, especially in children less than 6 years old, is Pelargonium sidoides root extract,” she says.
“This is also called South African geranium, and it has been found to reduce both the severity and duration of a sore throat in kids.”
11 Vicks VapoRub
We don’t typically think of mainstream products as “natural,” but the beauty of Vicks VapoRub — which happens to be a Good Housekeeping Seal star — is that it works topically.
When rubbed on the chest, neck, or back, the traditional camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus ointment can temporarily relieve discomfort and help you breathe easier.
Plus, it can be used on kids as young as two so it’s one less medication for them to take by mouth.
While anecdotal evidence abounds, there isn’t a whole lot of hard evidence to show a humidifier can actually relieve a sore throat. However, it probably won’t hurt to try.
The thinking is that dry air can exacerbate throat irritation, but a humidifier adds moisture to the air, making you feel more comfortable.
Our Good Housekeeping Institute s the Honeywell Cool Mist Humidifier for its quick results and easy cleaning.
Sore throat (pharyngitis)
A sore throat can be caused by a virus or a bacterial infection. It is also called pharyngitis, which means inflammation of the pharynx (the back of the throat).
It usually means you have a virus a cold or the flu. Your body will normally fight off the infection within a week without the need for medical treatment. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat a virus.
What causes a sore throat?
The most common cause of a sore throat is a virus a cold, the flu or glandular fever.
Less than 1 in 3 sore throats is caused by a bacterial infection. Some sore throats are caused by the bacteria Strepococcus pyogenes. This is sometimes called a ‘strep’ throat. If bacteria are the cause, you tend to become very unwell and your infection seems to get much worse. If the sore throat is caused by bacteria, you may benefit from antibiotics.
Sometimes a sore throat can be caused by tonsillitis or mouth ulcers.
Sore throat symptoms
If the sore throat is caused by a cold, you may also have a runny nose, cough, possibly fever and feel very tired.
If it’s a strep throat, other symptoms may include:
- swollen glands in the neck
- swollen red tonsils
- tummy pain
Sore throat diagnosis
If you or child has a sore throat and you are worried about the symptoms, see your doctor. Seek medical attention if:
- you have trouble breathing or swallowing
- you have a stiff or swollen neck
- you have a high fever
They will examine you by looking at your throat with a torch and feeling your glands. They may take a swab from the throat to see if you have a bacterial infection.
Sore throat treatment
There is no way to cure a sore throat that is caused by a virus. You can just treat the symptoms with pain relief. The sore throat should clear up in 5 to 7 days.
If the sore throat is caused by bacteria, you may benefit from antibiotics.
Self-care of a sore throat
Along with being sore, your throat may also be scratchy and you may have difficulty swallowing. To help with the symptoms, try gargling with warm, salty water or drinking hot water with honey and lemon. Warm or iced drinks and ice blocks may be soothing.
Avoid foods that cause pain when you swallow. Try eating soft foods such as yoghurt, soup or ice cream.
It is important to stay well hydrated so drink plenty of water. If you have an existing medical condition, check with your doctor about how much water is right for you.
Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and rest and avoid heavy activity until symptoms go away.
Smoking or breathing in other people’s smoke can make symptoms worse. Try to avoid being around people who are smoking. If you are a smoker, try to cut down or quit. For advice on quitting smoking, visit the Quit Now website.
Find out more about self-care tips if you have a high temperature (fever).
See your doctor if:
- your sore throat becomes worse
- your sore throat does not improve after 5 days
- you are concerned
If you are still concerned about your sore throat, check your symptoms with the healthdirect Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Last reviewed: February 2019