A sore throat is a very common condition and is usually caused by an infection in the throat. In 82% of cases, the symptoms will settle within 7 days without antibiotics. Many infections are mild, will get better quickly and do not need any specific treatment. Unnecessary use of antibiotics may cause side effects and may increase the incidence of antibiotic resistance. You can speak to your pharmacist for further advice on over-the-counter treatments available to help you manage your sore throat.
Types of throat infections include acute pharyngitis and acute tonsillitis. Acute pharyngitis is an infection of the throat and is most commonly caused by viruses, however, some can be caused by bacteria. Acute tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The tonsils are glandular tissue at the back of the throat and are part of the immune system.
Symptoms of a throat infection tend to worsen over 2-3 days and then gradually settle, usually within a week. The infection spreads through coughing, sneezing or breathing droplets which are infected with the germs. If these viruses or bacteria are breathed in by someone else then it may be passed on. The infection can also be spread through contact. This includes direct contact with another person or through indirect contact such touching surfaces contaminated with the germs.
If your throat infection is worsening or not improving then you may want to 'Start a Diagnosis' with i-GP or see your own GP. Antibiotic treatments we may prescribe if clinically appropriate:
Please see Common Treatments below for further information.