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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


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.


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.