Sore throat

Sore throat summary

Sore throat is an inflammation of the throat that in most cases is benign, but very painful. In autumn and winter a large part of the population is affected at least once with a sore throat (sore throat). Dry and cold air (in Southern Brazil due to temperature variations like São Paulo) are often the causes.
Generally, the causes of sore throat are viral (in the vast majority) or bacterial.
Sore throat symptoms are often a red, “burning” and irritated throat (typical signs of inflammation).

The treatment of sore throat caused by viruses can be done with analgesic and anti-infective drugs found in pharmacies, such as lozenges. When the inflammation is caused by bacteria, a doctor should be consulted to prescribe antibiotics .

Herbal medicines and some natural remedies can effectively and alternatively cure a sore throat, such as sage , thyme , mallow, licorice and home remedies.

To end this summary, here are some good tips in case of a sore throat: drink plenty of fluids, eat liquid foods, suck candies, gargle, humidify the air.

More advice and explanations on tips for sore throat – Read also: 10 tips to strengthen your immunity and resistance

Antibiotics are not automatic in cases of sore throat

According to a study published in October 2013 in the United States, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine , American doctors mistakenly prescribe many antibiotics in case of a sore throat. This study, which analyzed medical records from 1996 to 2010, tells us that doctors prescribed an antibiotic to patients suffering from a sore throat in 60% of cases.

The researchers also analyzed the rate of prescription of antibiotics for bronchitis , in this case the rate raised was 70%.

We know that for sore throats and bronchitis, the cause is usually viral, which makes the use of antibiotics simply unnecessary. Remember that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria.

In the case of sore throat, antibiotics are only effective against sore throats of bacterial origin such as streptococcal tonsillitis. According to the researchers who participated in the study, only 10% of people with a sore throat have bacterial angina. There has clearly been overprescription of antibiotics.

Prescribing too many antibiotics increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics, which is a major public health risk. Thousands of Americans die each year due to the consequences of antibiotic resistance, that is, for certain diseases these drugs no longer have an effect, the bacteria have developed resistance. The problem is that less than 50% of Americans believe that overuse of antibiotics is a health risk. Therefore, one can imagine that many patients put “pressure” on doctors to receive antibiotics.

Finally, prescribing too many antibiotics also creates unnecessary costs for the health care system.

In the past, other studies have also shown an excessively high rate of antibiotic prescription in cases of sinusitis .


Sore throat is often an inflammation in the region of the mucous membranes of the throat, which generates a tickling, “burning” sensation in the throat, (very) strong pain and irritation.

Sore throat is actually a symptom of another illness ( cold , allergy ).

The mouth and throat are almost always the first step for foreign bodies or infectious agents to enter (viruses, bacteria,…). Sore throats are usually the first symptom of a cold.

Transmission of sore throat

The transmission of a sore throat can occur, for example, through the cough or sneeze of an infected person, viruses and bacteria are transmitted in small droplets of saliva. Contaminated hands can also be a source of entry for viruses and bacteria that cause inflammation.


The cause of sore throats is most often viral. In fact, sore throats often fall to cold viruses (rhinoviruses) . Sore throats are then one of the symptoms (along with fever) of the common cold .

It is estimated that there are around 200 different viruses that can cause a cold and therefore a sore throat. Covid -19 can cause a sore throat. Mononucleosis (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus) can also be a cause of strep throat.

In some cases, a sore throat can be caused by bacteria. In this case, after a medical diagnosis, the doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics. You should know that a sore throat caused by bacteria causes more severe, often more painful, symptoms. It should be noted that the virus can promote the onset of sore throat caused by bacteria. In fact, viruses, due to their large numbers, weaken the immune system, making it less effective, which then leads to an easier entry of bacteria into the throat.

Mycoses Mycoses
(fungal infections), such as thrush (mycosis in the mouth) , are other possible causes of a sore throat.

Other causes
A sore throat can also be caused or facilitated by very dry air, fatigue (following a weakened immune system), an allergy , tobacco (for example, tobacco smoke in a room), stress or nervousness, pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat), laryngitis , or the simple fact of having spoken or shouted a lot. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease can also be a cause of strep throat.

Throat Cancer
Be aware that in rare cases, a sore throat can be a symptom of cancer, particularly throat cancer. Throat cancer sometimes caused by the HPV virus is more likely to develop in people who have unprotected oral sex on multiple partners during their lifetime. Smoking and drinking alcohol are other causes of throat cancer.


The classic symptoms of a sore throat are usually:

– Reddened throat with burning and irritation (typical signs of an inflammation)

– Difficulty swallowing solid foods

– Other typical symptoms of a cold , such as a fever or a cold .

– Possible swelling of the lymph nodes.

– hoarseness

– bad breath

– Possible breathing difficulties.

In general, the sore throat disappears after 5 or 7 days.

When to consult?

Sore throat is most often benign, that is, without serious consequences for health. These sore throats are usually caused by viruses, such as colds. Sometimes, however, a sore throat can be the cause of a more serious and serious illness. It is advisable to consult a doctor quickly in the following situations1 :
– Sudden onset of sore throat with fever but no signs of a cold (this could indicate angina or tonsillitis)
– If you have a fever 1 to 2 days after feeling better.
– If you develop a rash
– If you develop painful joints
– If you have difficulty breathing or chest pain
– If your urine is very dark
– If you are unable to swallow or drink any fluids
Please note that the above list is not intended to be exhaustive . If in doubt, always consult a doctor.

Emergency in Children (Warning Signs)
The signs or symptoms mentioned below require you to go to emergency room immediately2 :
– When the child has difficulty breathing. Sore throat can be a sign of swelling or blockage in the respiratory system.
– When the child has difficulty swallowing, especially if he is drooling. It could also be a sign of a dangerous swelling or blockage.
– When the child has a high fever that does not go down or is unusually drowsy. A temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher that doesn’t go down withacetaminophenoribuprofen, or unusual drowsiness, could be a sign of a serious infection.
– When the child has strong and incessant pain. This type of pain, anywhere, deserves immediate attention.
Please note that the above list is not intended to be exhaustive. Medical emergency signs remain rare in children.


The classic treatments against sore throats can be the following:

1. Medicines based on a local anesthetic associated with an antiseptic. These medicines will calm the pain and disinfect the mucous membranes of the throat.

These medicines are often used in pill form or as a gargle.

2. Antalgics, such as those based on paracetamol , ibuprofen or ASA ( Aspirin ), these anti-pain agents allow, above all, to complete the therapy in case of severe pain and fever related to sore throat.

Herbal medicine

The medicinal plants below have been shown to be effective against sore throats:

– Chamomile , used in gargles, infusion or capsules.

– Gooseberry , blackcurrant berries are used in pastilles.

– Alteia , used in infusion or tablets.

– Malva , used in infusion, lozenges, gargles or capsules.

– Iceland moss , used in tablets or infusion.

– Liquorice , used in pills or infusion.

– Sage , used in gargles.

– Thyme , (strong disinfectant power), used in capsules, infusion, syrup and essential oil.

– Garlic . Due to its allicin content, which can act as antibacterial and antiviral. Consume raw garlic, for example in a salad or as a food supplement (eg capsules).

natural remedies

– Sage infusion

– Clove of garlic

– Salt water for sore throats


– Drink plenty of fluids, including herbal teas (made from sage) and drinks or tea with honey. Drink lots of water, it also helps to cure a sore throat. Indeed, in case of sore throat, the throat is dry and with little mucus, which has a protective effect against infectious agents. Drinking helps to strengthen the mucus.

One idea is to double your fluid intake during a sore throat. However, avoid alcohol and coffee, which have a dehydrating effect.

– Take mainly liquid foods (soups) to reduce the pain when swallowing.

– Suck on throat lozenges, this increases salivary secretion and promotes healing. However, try to pay attention and respect the indications on the medicine leaflet so as not to abuse it.

– Avoid eating very acidic or very salty foods so as not to irritate the throat mucosa.

– Make gargles (based on an infusion of sage , thyme or chamomile, for example).

– Treat yourself with medicinal plants rich in mucilage, in the form of infusions or tablets.

– Taking an important dose of vitamin C (up to 1 gram a day) as well as zinc (4 to 5 zinc tablets a day, for a maximum of 5 days) when the sore throat is declared allows you to reduce the duration by half of sore throat symptoms.

– Protect your neck and throat from the cold with a scarf or scarf, especially in winter.

– Humidify the air in the bedroom where one sleeps and in the office (for example, using a humidifier, available at pharmacies or many stores).

– In case of sore throat, avoid talking too much or singing too much so as not to aggravate the situation.

– Avoid smoky places and, if possible, do not smoke while you have a sore throat (tobacco has a very irritating action on the throat mucosa).

– Wash your hands frequently with soap (15 seconds), this will prevent transmission to others and avoid transmission.

– In case of sore throat, be careful not to touch the eye area, including eyelids. Because the throat virus can cause conjunctivitis . Avoid, therefore, above all, bringing your hand to your mouth and then to eye level.

– Eating hard-boiled eggs during a sore throat can be a good idea, as they are easy to swallow (slightly painful swallowing) and are rich in vitamin D and omega-6. Two substances that play a positive role in the immune system and can act against throat inflammation3.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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