Sore Throat

ExitCare ImageA sore throat is pain, burning, irritation, or scratchiness of the throat. There is often pain or tenderness when swallowing or talking. A sore throat may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, fever, and swollen neck glands. A sore throat is often the first sign of another sickness, such as a cold, flu, strep throat, or mononucleosis (commonly known as mono). Most sore throats go away without medical treatment.


The most common causes of a sore throat include:

  • A viral infection, such as a cold, flu, or mono.

  • A bacterial infection, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, or whooping cough.

  • Seasonal allergies.

  • Dryness in the air.

  • Irritants, such as smoke or pollution.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).


  • Only take over-the-counter medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Rest as needed.

  • Try using throat sprays, lozenges, or sucking on hard candy to ease any pain (if older than 4 years or as directed).

  • Sip warm liquids, such as broth, herbal tea, or warm water with honey to relieve pain temporarily. You may also eat or drink cold or frozen liquids such as frozen ice pops.

  • Gargle with salt water (mix 1 tsp salt with 8 oz of water).

  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.

  • Put a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom at night to moisten the air. You can also turn on a hot shower and sit in the bathroom with the door closed for 5–10 minutes.


  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You are unable to swallow fluids, soft foods, or your saliva.

  • You have increased swelling in the throat.

  • Your sore throat does not get better in 7 days.

  • You have nausea and vomiting.

  • You have a fever or persistent symptoms for more than 2–3 days.

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.