Treating a sore throat

Symptoms and causes of a sore throat

Sore throats are common, with most people getting at least two a year. They are more common among children and teenagers than they are with adults. This is because young people have not built up immunity against many of the viruses and bacteria that can cause a sore throat.

Sore throat symptoms

Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat

Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat

Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking

Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking

Difficulty swallowing

Difficulty swallowing

Fever can sometimes lead to cough

Swollen, red tonsils

A hoarse or muffled voice

A hoarse or muffled voice

Causes of a sore throat

The cause of a sore throat isn’t always obvious. But in most cases, it’s a symptom of a viral or bacterial infection.

Colds or flu – you may also have a blocked or runny nose, a cough, a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches

Colds or flu – you may also have a blocked or runny nose, a cough, a high temperature (fever), a headache and general aches

Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat

Laryngitis – Laryngitis is the inflammation of your voice box. It may also lead you to having a hoarse voice, a dry cough and a constant need to clear your throat.

Fever can sometimes lead to cough

Tonsillitis – Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils, you may also have red or spotty tonsils, discomfort when swallowing and a fever.

Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection - you may also have swollen glands in your neck, discomfort when swallowing and tonsillitis.

Strep throat – A bacterial throat infection – you may also have swollen glands in your neck, discomfort when swallowing and tonsillitis.

Glandular fever – You may also feel very tired and have a fever and swollen glands in your neck.

Glandular fever – You may also feel very tired and have a fever and swollen glands in your neck.

A sore throat might also result in other signs and symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

Sore throat treatment

A sore throat is often the first sign of another oncoming problem, so it’s important to get on top of it with early treatment and ‘nip it in the bud’. Ask your pharmacist about new and effective over the counter medicines that can help you get on with your day.

It is usually best to avoid hot foods or drinks as it may irritate your throat. Eat cool, soft food and drink cool or warm liquids.

You can suck on lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice lollies to help soothe your sore throat.

Drink enough fluids, especially if you have a high temperature (fever).

Regularly gargle warm salty water to reduce any swelling or pain.

Avoid smoking and smoky environments.

If you have a sore throat, make an appointment to see your GP if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve after two weeks
  • You have frequent sore throats that do not respond to painkillers.
  • You have a persistent fever, a temperature that is above 38C which medication does not reduce.
  • Swollen tonsils (two small glands found at the back of your throat, behind the tongue)
  • Enlarged and tender glands in your neck or a painful, tender feeling at the back of your throat.

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