What is it?
Sore throats are common and are often part of another illness, such as a cold. Viruses are the most common cause. Over time, the number of sore throats caused by bacteria has fallen. Fungal infections like oral thrush can also cause sore throats.
What are the symptoms?
There is pain at the back of the throat which may feel worse when you swallow. You may also have redness in your throat or white patches at the back of your throat. There may be associated fever, painful or swollen glands in the neck, pain around the nose, or a cough with mucus.
What treatments work?
Viral sore throats get better in a few days without any treatment. Antibiotics may be prescribed for sore throat due to bacteria. Taking antibiotics for strep can help stop the infection spreading to someone else and will often make you feel better within 24 hours. It can also prevent the infection from causing an ear infection, a throat abscess, and other problems such as rheumatic fever.
There are things you can try to help you feel more comfortable. Some people find that drinking warm tea with honey or gargling with salt water soothes their pain. Sucking throat lozenges like Strepsils or hard sweets can also help.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can also help with the pain of a sore throat. These medicines come as tablets you swallow and as chewable tablets and syrups, which are easier for children to take.