What is a sore throat?
A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that usually feels worse when swallowing.
What are the symptoms?
If you have a sore throat you might have:
- a painful throat, especially when swallowing
- a dry, scratchy throat
- redness in the back of your mouth
- bad breath
- a mild cough
- swollen neck glands
The symptoms are similar for children, but children can also get a temperature and seem less active.
How long could it last?
Most adults recover from a sore throat after 7-8 days. If symptoms last longer than they normally would, or you are worried about a young child or elderly relative, speak to your local pharmacist for advice.
When should I visit my GP practice?
Seek medical advice if you or your child:
- have trouble breathing or swallowing
- are drooling more than usual
- have a stiff or swollen neck
- can’t fully open your mouth
- have a high temperature or feel hot and shivery
You should also contact your GP practice if:
- your sore throat does not improve after a week
- you often get sore throats
- you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of diabetes or chemotherapy
More information can be found here: NHS – Sore throats
Do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are not normally prescribed for sore throats as they usually will not relieve your symptoms or speed up recovery. A healthcare professional will only prescribe them if they feel you need them.
Doctors most often prescribe penicillin to treat bacterial throat infections.
What treatment do I need?
There are some simple ways to help with any pain and give your body the best chance of fighting the infection:
- Consider paracetamol for pain or fever, or if preferred and suitable, ibuprofen
- It’s important to drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest
- Adults could try medicated lozenges containing either a local anaesthetic or an antiseptic. This might only help to reduce pain by a small amount. More information can be found on the NHS website
If you are ever worried that your symptoms might be something more severe then you can visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.