How to Treat Your Sore Throat

Pain in your throat is typically caused by a virus or a bacterial infection. Each condition has distinct symptoms:


Cold/Flu Virus This kind of infection causes red inflammation over your entire throat, including the back of your tongue and tonsils. Common symptoms of a virus include throat pain that lasts 1-2 days, a runny or stuffy nose, and a cough. Prescription medications, like antibiotics, do not work to treat a virus.


Bacterial Strep Infection The telling sign of a bacterial infection is puss. A throat with a strep infection is red and inflamed but also has white, lumpy patches of pus in the throat and on the tonsils. Additional indicators of strep are throat pain that lasts 3-7 days, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, and a fever higher than 101° F. Strep requires immediate medical attention and is typically treated with 10 days of the antibiotic penicillin.


Whatever your diagnosis, try these sore throat soothers to reduce discomfort.


Humidifier Use it while you sleep. Humidifiers help prevent a painful morning sore throat caused by breathing in dry air while sleeping with your mouth open.


Throat sprays Look for glycerin, phenol or menthol in the ingredients – they numb your throat so you can eat and drink pain-free.


Slippery elm lozenges are effective because they have mucilage, a gel-like substance produced by plants, that coats and soothes the throat.


Ibuprofen is a better choice than acetaminophen because it reduces both pain and swelling.


Click here to learn more about the difference between sore throat and strep throat.