What causes a sore throat?
- Sore throats or pharyngitis can be caused by many things.
- Viruses: these can be simple colds or viruses that cause other diseases such as mono.
- Bacteria: these infections are caused by specific strains of bacteria. They cause infections such as “strep throat” and can be treated with antibiotics.
- Allergies: people with allergies can often have a sore throat that can last for weeks.
- Irritation: these can be from substances such as cigarette smoke, dry air, or straining your voice.
- Reflux: this is sometimes referred to as heartburn. It is cause by some of the stomach acids coming back up the esophagus and irritating the throat.
- Take over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil.
- Gargle with warm salt water.
- Suck on hard throat lozenges, candy or cough drops.
- Eat frozen desserts such as popsicles.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Many people drink warm tea with honey.
- Humidify your room as needed.
- Wash your hands frequently!
- Do not share food, drinking glasses, dishes, or utensils.
- Avoid things that you know may aggravate your allergies, such as cats.
When to see a provider for your sore throat:
- A sore throat lasts longer than a week
- A sore throat is severe and you are having trouble swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Joint pain
- An earache
- A rash
- Fever > 101
- Blood in your phlegm
- Hoarseness that lasts over 2 weeks
Back to the Common Ailments page
Last Updated 5/21/12
at the Health Center.