Sore Throat

Sore throats may be caused by bacteria and viruses. They may also be caused by:

  • Smoking.

  • Pollution.

  • Allergies.

If a sore throat is due to strep infection (a bacterial infection), you may need:

  • A throat swab.

  • A culture test to verify the strep infection.

You will need one of these:

  • An antibiotic shot.

  • Oral medicine for a full 10 days.

Strep infection is very contagious. A doctor should check any close contacts who have a sore throat or fever. A sore throat caused by a virus infection will usually last only 3-4 days. Antibiotics will not treat a viral sore throat.

Infectious mononucleosis (a viral disease), however, can cause a sore throat that lasts for up to 3 weeks. Mononucleosis can be diagnosed with blood tests. You must have been sick for at least 1 week in order for the test to give accurate results.


  • To treat a sore throat, take mild pain medicine.

  • Increase your fluids.

  • Eat a soft diet.

  • Do not smoke.

  • Gargling with warm water or salt water (1 tsp. salt in 8 oz. water) can be helpful.

  • Try throat sprays or lozenges or sucking on hard candy to ease the symptoms.

Call your doctor if your sore throat lasts longer than 1 week.


  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You have increased swelling in the throat.

  • You have pain so severe that you are unable to swallow fluids or your saliva.

  • You have a severe headache, a high fever, vomiting, or a red rash.