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Sore throat treatment: relieving pain and discomfort

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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As medical professionals, we know that a sore throat is a common medical complaint that can be uncomfortable and painful. Most sore throats are caused by viral infections, but bacterial infections, allergies, dry air, acid reflux, smoking, air pollution, or voice strain can also cause this condition. In this article, we will discuss the treatment options and self-care strategies for relieving sore throat pain and discomfort.

Doctor’s advice

Treatment options

If you are experiencing a sore throat, you can try over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to relieve the pain. Ibuprofen can also reduce inflammation in the throat. Initially, try taking either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you are still in pain, you can try combining the two (provided you are sixteen or over). Aspirin is another anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, but generally is not recommended for pain relief.

Other products

Alongside painkillers, there are also other products that you can try to relieve sore throat pain and discomfort. Lozenges, either medicated or non-medicated, can provide some relief for your sore throat pain. They work as a demulcent, forming a soothing coating over the lining of the throat. Medicated lozenges are more effective than non-medicated lozenges and may contain local anesthetics that numb your throat or antiseptic medications that act against bacteria and viruses in your throat. Throat sprays and rinses can also help relieve sore throat pain and discomfort. Examples include Difflam Spray, Difflam lozenges, and Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray. If you prefer using herbal medicines, you could try A. Vogel Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray.

Self-care strategies

Self-care strategies can also help relieve sore throat pain and discomfort. These include getting plenty of rest, keeping hydrated, gargling with warm, salty water, resting your voice, sucking on ice cubes or ice lollies, and avoiding triggers such as smoking and smoky places. Warm honey and lemon water is a natural remedy you can try as well.

When to see your doctor

Most sore throats are usually nothing to be concerned about and should get better on their own within a week. However, if you have had a sore throat for longer than a week, your sore throat keeps coming back, you also have a high temperature (above 100°F), or you feel hot and shivery, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. In this case, you may have a bacterial infection, and your doctor will recommend an antibiotic if they think your sore throat has a bacterial cause.

If you have a weakened immune system due to medications such as chemotherapy, carbimazole, cyclosporin, clozapine, tacrolimus, or methotrexate, you should promptly speak with your doctor if you develop a sore throat. You are at a higher risk of developing complications as your body is less effective at fighting off an infection. You should also seek urgent medical attention if you have any severe symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, drooling, or breathing that is high-pitched and abnormal.

In conclusion, a sore throat can be an uncomfortable and painful condition, but there are various treatment options and self-care strategies that you can try to relieve sore throat pain and discomfort. Remember to always consult your doctor if you have any severe symptoms or concerns about your condition.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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