• Alternative Names

    Pharyngitis - bacterial; Sore throat


    Most sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not help. Using them to treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics.

    Sore throats should only be treated with antibiotics if a strep test is positive. Strep cannot be accurately diagnosed by symptoms or a physical exam alone. For more information, see: Strep throat

    The following tips may help your sore throat feel better:

    • Drink warm liquids such as lemon tea or tea with honey.
    • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
    • Drink cold liquids or suck on popsicles.
    • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges. Young children should not be given such products because they can choke on them.
    • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat.
    • Try over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen.

    Support Groups


    Complications may include:

    • Blockage of the airway (in severe cases)
    • Sore (abscess) around the tonsils or behind the throat

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You develop a sore throat that does not go away after several days
    • You have a high fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, or a rash

    Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.