Sore throats can be painful and annoying. Fortunately, most sore throats are caused by a minor illness and go away without medical treatment.
Several conditions can cause a sore throat.
Sore throats may be caused by a viral illness, such as:
A bacterial infection may also cause a sore throat. This can occur from:
A sore throat that lasts longer than a week is often caused by irritants or an injuries, such as:
Treatment for a sore throat depends on the cause. You may be able to use home treatment to obtain relief.
Because viral illnesses are the most common cause of a sore throat, it is important not to use antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics do not alter the course of viral infections. Unnecessary use of an antibiotic exposes you to the risks of an allergic reaction and antibiotic side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics also may kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For sore throats caused by strep, treatment with antibiotics may be needed.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
|Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.|
|Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?|
Home treatment is usually all that is needed for a sore throat caused by a virus. These tips may help you feel better.
Consider taking nonprescription medicine for your symptoms.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
More home treatment can be found in topics related to sore throat.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
There is no sure way to prevent a sore throat. To help reduce your risk:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being ready to answer the following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||David Messenger, MD|
|Last Revised||February 1, 2013|
Last Revised: February 1, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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