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Self Care for Sore Throats

That rough, raw feeling in the back of the throat is an extremely common symptom with a variety of causes, such as

  • Viral Infections
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Allergies
  • Postnasal Drainage
  • Smoking
  • Overuse of Voice
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Air Pollution
  • Dry Air


One cause of a sore throat is “strep throat”, which is caused by an infection with streptococcal bacteria.  It is more common in children ages 4 to 11, and is less common in older children and adults. Symptoms of strep throat often include the following:

  • Fever of 100° or higher
  • White or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • Swollen and/or tender lymph nodes in the neck

Antibiotics

It is sometimes difficult to determine if a sore throat is caused by a bacteria or a virus.  Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for viral sore throats, but are indicted for bacterial causes, such as strep throat. 

What can I do to ease the discomfort of a sore throat?

  • Analgesic Medicines: Tylenol 500-1,000 mg every 6 hours (Maximum dose of 3,000 mg in 24 hours)  and/or Ibuprofen 600 mg with food every 6-8 hours as needed for pain relief.
  • Increase clear fluids (non-alcoholic), such as water, licorice root tea, broth, fruit juices, etc.
  • Get extra rest.
  • Saline gargles (1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in 8 oz. of warm water).
  • Sore throat lozenges (Cepastat, N’Ice, Sucrets, etc.) or hard candy dissolved in the mouth.
  • Anesthetic sprays, such as Cepastat or Chloraseptic.
  • Popsicles can help decrease a fever and increase fluids while soothing a sore throat.
  • Decongestants, such as Pseudephedrine 30-60 mg every four to six hours, if needed for nasal congestion.
  • If you smoke, QUIT, or at least cut down.  Smoking irritates the throat and prolongs symptoms.

See a health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A severe sore throat with drooling or difficulty breathing.
  • A fever of 100° or higher.
  • White or yellow coating on the tonsils.
  • Swollen glands in the neck.
  • Severe painful swallowing.
  • Symptoms lasting longer than one week.
  • A rash with a sore throat.
  • A history of rheumatic fever.

Prevention:

To avoid the spread of viruses and bacteria that can cause sore throats, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.