Treating a sore throat

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Usually no specific treatment is required if you have viral pharyngitis (such as mono), which usually clears up within a week.

Bacterial infections such as strep throat can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics do not help with viral infections.

For chronic pharyngitis (persistent pain due to a respiratory, sinus, or mouth infection spreading to the throat), your doctor should treat the primary source of infection.

Home sore throat relief

Most sore throats will go away by themselves after a few days and can be effectively treated at home.

To relieve the pain and discomfort of a sore throat, you could try the following:

  • Get a lot of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Gargle with warm salt water or some other home-made gargle to wash away mucus and irritants.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes.
  • Eat largely soft foods for a couple of days to avoid irritating your throat.
  • Suck non-prescription lozenges containing a mild anaesthetic. Zinc lozenges can relieve sore throats and other cold symptoms. Mildly anaesthetic sprays and mouthwashes are also available over the counter.
  • If mouth breathing or dry air causes your sore throat, try using a humidifier in your home.
  • If your nose is blocked, use a nasal spray to prevent mouth breathing. (Caution: using these products for more than a couple of days may result in dependency. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, check with a doctor before using any decongestant products.)
  • Apply a warm heating pad, compress or salt plaster to your throat.
  • Try steam inhalations.


  • When necessary, use mild pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. (Caution: do not give aspirin to a child or young adult. Aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious condition.)
  • If your sore throat is so severe that it makes breathing or eating difficult, your doctor may give you prednisone, a steroid drug.
  • For acute bacterial pharyngitis (such as strep throat), your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics:
  • Penicillin or some other antibiotic such as erythromycin is commonly prescribed for seven to 10 days.
  • You will feel better after taking antibiotics for 24 hours – but it is important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even after symptoms disappear.
  • Antibiotics may not always shorten the course of the disease, but they will kill the bacteria and cut down the risk of serious strep complications.

Read More:

Sore throat

Diagnosing a sore throat

Sick of sore throats?

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