A sore throat is the general name for 2 common conditions:
Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Many things can cause a sore throat, such as:
Sore throats are more common children, teens, or people aged 65 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of a sore throat include:
Along with the sore throat, you may have other symptoms, such as:
Call your doctor if you:
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests calling your child's doctor if your child has a sore throat that goes on for more than 1 day (no matter what other symptoms are present).
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Your doctor will do a physical exam. This involves looking closely at your mouth, throat, nose, ears, and the lymph nodes in your neck.
Treatment depends on the cause of the sore throat. Options may include:
Self-care steps you can do at home:
To help reduce your chance of a sore throat:
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Brink AJ, Cotton MF, Feldman C, et al. Guideline for the management of upper respiratory tract infections. S Afr Med J. 2004;94(6 Pt 2):475-483.
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Pharyngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 25, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sore throat. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/sore-throat.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sore throat. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/sore-throat-leaflet. Accessed November 20, 2013. Accessed September 29, 2014
The difference between a sore throat, strep and tonsillitis. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/The-Difference-Between-a-Sore-Throat-Strep-and-Tonsillitis.aspx. Updated May 28, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Throat problems. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/health-tools/search-by-symptom/throat-problems.html. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Vincent MT, Celestin N, Hussain AN. Pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(6):1465-1470.
11/10/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Hayward G, Thompson M, Heneghan C, Perera R, Del Mar C, Glasziou P. Corticosteroids for pain relief in sore throat: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2009;339.
Last reviewed August 2015 by David Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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