What is sore throat: remedies and how to relieve symptoms

It is difficult to find someone who has never suffered from a sore throat. At different intensities, the condition can be quite uncomfortable, although it is not always serious.

Even in mild cases, where just resting, eating or swallowing your own saliva can be painful.

In some more intense cases, the use of medications is indicated and should always be guided by a doctor.


What is sore throat?

Sore throat is the main symptom of inflammation of the pharynx and tonsils, common in several infections, such as colds and flu, in addition to allergies. It disappears in a few days, without treatment, and it is not worrying, except in case of bacterial infection.

Because it is an extremely common and easily resolved problem, it is normal for people to simply treat their sore throat symptoms at home. However, it is necessary to pay attention to the duration and intensity of the condition, as well as other possible symptoms, to make sure that it is not something more serious.

The most frequent type of sore throat is viral, which usually affects more children and adolescents. Still, people of all ages are susceptible to infections and inflammations.

It is more common in the cold seasons of the year, quite possibly because of the easier spread of viruses. Dry weather also worsens the symptom.


The name “sore throat” is actually an umbrella term for a common symptom in some inflammation in the respiratory tract.

This inflammation does not happen in the entire throat, but in parts of it, such as the pharynx or tonsils. These cases are called pharyngitis and tonsillitis , respectively.

Due to the anatomical proximity of the pharynx and tonsils, infection in both parts is also common, resulting in pharyngotonsillitis.

Sore throat types and causes

The types of sore throat are classified according to their cause. These can be:

  • Viral infections;
  • Bacterial infections;
  • Environmental factors;
  • Immunosuppressive drugs.

Viral infections are responsible for about 50% of cases, while those of bacterial origin are more rare, causing only 20% of sore throats. The other 30% are of non-infectious origin, that is, due to environmental factors and medications.

Viral infections

Most sore throats are caused by viral infections, such as colds and flu . Other infections that affect this part of the respiratory system are:

  • Mononucleosis: A highly transmissible saliva infection, also known as “kiss disease”.
  • Measles: A disease associated with childhood, it can be transmitted through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.
  • Chickenpox: Another disease associated with childhood that can cause sore throats and be transmitted by coughing and sneezing.
  • Zika: Some people affected by the Zika virus develop a sore throat.

Bacterial infections

There are several bacteria that can affect the respiratory system and cause sore throats. Some of these infections are:

  • Streptococcal pharyngitis: An inflammation of the throat caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.
  • Diphtheria: An infection of the airways that causes a blockage in breathing, transmissible through coughing, sneezing, saliva, contact with the skin and touching contaminated surfaces.
  • Whooping cough: Caused by Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis, this infection causes whooping cough and changes in the mucous membrane;
  • Peritonsillar abscess: A rare condition in which there is an abscess (accumulation of pus) around the amygdala, usually on only one side, where there is also an infection by bacteria.

Environmental factors

Sore throat is not always caused by a virus or bacteria. Often, it can be related to environmental factors, such as:

  • Allergies: Allergic people, when exposed to irritating substances, can suffer from excessive production of nasal mucus that accumulates in the throat and behind the nose. Such an accumulation can irritate the throat, causing inflammation and pain. This condition is usually caused by sinusitis, rhinitis and gastrointestinal reflux, and it usually causes recurrent sore throat;
  • Dry air: In times when the air is very dry or in the presence of air conditioning, dryness can irritate the throat and cause pain;
  • Cigarette: Exposure to cigarette smoke, whether active or passive, can cause irritation in the throat;
  • Screaming, singing or talking too much: People who use their voice a lot are more likely to hurt their throat and vocal cords, causing pain.

Immunosuppressive drugs

Medicines that act on the immune system and the thyroid can change the way the body deals with infections, making them more frequent and dangerous.

Some drugs to treat hyperthyroidism have the adverse effect of decreasing white blood cells, which can cause sore throat. In this situation, the person needs to be treated urgently in a hospital, to avoid complications.

Other causes

Very rarely, the possibility exists that the pain is a sign of throat cancer or infection with the HIV virus .

How do you know if your sore throat is viral, bacterial or non-infectious?

It is difficult to distinguish the types of sore throat without the help of a professional doctor, since the symptoms are very similar.

Non-infectious sore throats are usually easy to notice, as in these cases there is no pus in the throat and, normally, other symptoms characteristic of infections, such as fever , lack of appetite, among others , are not manifested .

There are exceptions, as in the case of allergic reactions, in which the patient may experience sneezing, nasal congestion, etc.

In the case of infectious pain, the most accurate way to find out is through clinical diagnosis, that is, through a doctor.

Groups of risk

The groups most easily affected by sore throat are:

  • Kids;
  • Smokers;
  • Allergic people;
  • People being treated with immunosuppressants;
  • People undergoing chemotherapy;
  • People with weakened immune systems.

Is sore throat transmissible?

To find out if a sore throat can be passed on to others, you need to identify the source of the sore. Pain from viral and bacterial infections is highly infectious and, therefore, contact of the mucous membranes with a healthy person is not recommended.

The pains caused by allergies, smoking and environmental factors are not transmissible and the contact with the closest people can continue normally, without the need for precautionary measures.

If the patient does not know where his sore throat is coming from, it is recommended that he be careful when contacting other people. If the pain does not go away or worsens in a few days, he should see a doctor, to receive the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Sore throat symptoms

Sore throat is, in itself, a symptom. Still, it can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some of them include:

  • Pain or scratchy sensation in the throat, which can be in the entire throat or on one side;
  • Pain that worsens when swallowing or speaking;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw;
  • Swollen tonsils;
  • Whitish spots or pus in the tonsils;
  • Hoarseness or muffled voice.

In addition, sore throat rarely appears alone, being more common with other symptoms. These depend on the source of the inflammation, but the most common for all types of infection are:

  • Fever;
  • Cough;
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose);
  • Sneeze;
  • Body pain;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea or vomiting.

People who suffer from sinusitis and other allergies may also experience tinnitus and ear pain.

In general, you only need to see a doctor if the symptoms do not improve in a few days, as it may be a bacterial infection.

How is the diagnosis of sore throat

The diagnosis of sore throat can be easily made by a general practitioner, infectious disease or otorhinolaryngologist.

First, the doctor must examine the throat with the help of an instrument with a lamp on the end, to illuminate the place. Upon noticing changes, such as blemishes or swelling, the doctor may have an idea of ​​the source of the infection.

He can also examine the neck by touching it, looking for swelling in the glands, and checking, with the help of a stethoscope, for wheezing in the chest that shows problems with breathing.

If a viral or bacterial infection is suspected, the doctor may use a cotton-tipped instrument to collect some of the mucosa or material that is available in the throat at the time. This material is taken for analysis and the result comes out between 48 and 72 hours.

In case of suspected infectious mononucleosis , a blood test may also be ordered.

If the presence of a virus or bacteria is confirmed, the doctor must offer the appropriate treatment.

Can a sore throat be cured? How is the treatment?

Fortunately, a sore throat is curable and often resolves itself. Still, treatment can be prescribed to take care of symptoms, in the case of viral infections, or to end a bacterial infection.

Treatment can be done through medicines or home remedies. Check out:

Medicines: what is the remedy for sore throat?

The drugs used to treat sore throat depend on the source of the infection. In cases of viral infection, only the symptoms are treated, since the disease comes to an end on its own quickly.

In bacterial infections, however, there is a need to use antibiotics , which eliminate the responsible bacteria. There is also the use of antihistamines when the pain is caused by allergies.

Viral infection: what to use?

To treat pain and inflammation, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen , nimesulide and paracetamol can be used. In these cases, you can also use flurbiprofen tablets , with anti-inflammatory action, to relieve pain.

Bacterial infection: antibiotics for throat

In the case of bacteria, the use of penicillin-derived antibiotics, such as amoxicillin , is common . For patients unable to swallow pills due to pain or who do not want to take medicine for several days, intramuscular injection of benzathine benzylpenicillin , also known as Benzetacil , may be prescribed .

Patients allergic to penicillin may be treated with azithromycin .

For pain relief while the antibiotic has no effect, the anti-inflammatory drugs mentioned above can also be used.

Allergies: which remedies are indicated?

Antihistamines work by preventing histamine from connecting to its receptors unnecessarily, which causes allergies.

In this way, these medications can help to keep the allergy under control when the person comes into contact with irritating agents, preventing the accumulation of mucus and, consequently, the sore throat.

There is no evidence that antihistamines can help with sore throat itself, but they treat the allergies that trigger the symptom and, therefore, can be taken as a preventive measure when the patient is exposed to allergenic agents.

Some antihistamines available on the market are:

  • Hydroxyzine ;
  • Clemastina ;
  • Cetirizine ;
  • Desloratadine or Loratadine ;
  • Triancinolona ;
  • Diphenhydramine ;
  • Fexofenadina.

Throat irritation: what to take?

Some medications indicated to relieve throat irritation may include lozenges and sprays, such as:

  • Benalet ;
  • Endcoff;
  • Cepacaine ;
  • Gargabem pastille ;
  • Malvatricin Spray ;
  • Propolis Spray Apis Vida ;
  • Melagrião Propolive .

How long does it take to pass the sore throat?

The recovery time depends on the intensity of the symptoms, as well as the care that the person adopts in the treatment. In general, even the most intense conditions, show significant improvements between 2 and 5 days.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Sore throat in pregnancy

Always see a doctor and do not self-medicate, as some substances can be harmful to the fetus. A tip is to use natural treatments for symptom relief, always taking care not to ingest anything that could harm the pregnancy.

Sore throat at children

It is important for parents to take their children to the doctor as soon as they notice signs that the child may be suffering from a sore throat – a child rejecting food, for example, can be a sign – for a doctor or pediatrician to examine and pass the correct treatment.

Acetylsalicylic acid should never be given to children, as it is associated with Reye’s Syndrome, a serious disease with high mortality.

Home remedy: tips to relieve sore throat

Home remedies are quite popular in the treatment of sore throat. It is important to note that these solutions do not cure the problem itself, being effective only in treating symptoms.

Check out some tips for home treatments that can help:

Hot compress

The hot compress increases blood flow and relaxes the muscle, so it helps to ease pain and decrease the infectious process.


There are several gargle recipes that help in the relief of sore throat. Some take warm water and a pinch of salt, others take honey and lemon in the composition.

Regardless of the ingredients, gargling with warm water relieves pain and, with the addition of salt, can decrease the amount of mucus accumulated in the throat.

Fluid intake and rest

Fluid intake is extremely important while the body is recovering from the infection. So it is recommended to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.

Rest is also necessary, since the body is able to concentrate on fighting the virus when it does not struggle with other things.


The consumption of milk and its derivatives is not advisable during a throat infection, as it helps to thicken the mucus, which makes it difficult when expelling.


There are several teas that can help to ease the symptoms of sore throat. The most recommended are chamomile, ginger and licorice root.

Air humidifier

Dry air promotes dehydration of the throat and therefore worsens symptoms. In this way, an air humidifier can help, since the air that passes through the respiratory tract, when moist, is softer and does not cause dryness of the throat.

Inhalation of natural vapor

Natural steam can help relieve sore throat when it hurts due to dryness. In addition, it also helps to unblock the nasal passages, making breathing easier.

To do this type of inhalation, you need a basin and a bath towel. Put half of the hot water in the basin. This hot water can be pure or mixed with essential oils like eucalyptus or mint.

Some prefer to mix the tea from these leaves with the water. Then, place the bath towel over your head, forming a kind of hut between your head and the basin, and breathe in the steam that the water releases.

Mixtures with honey

Honey is widely used in home remedies for sore throat. It is added to teas and juices, often in the company of lemon and salt.

That’s because honey is mucolytic and has anti-inflammatory properties, that is, it reduces the amount of accumulated mucus and helps fight inflammation.


For people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, honey can attack the stomach and trigger a crisis, even more if there is lemon in the mixture. In general, these patients should follow an exclusive medication treatment, to avoid crises.


Propolis is also widely used, along with honey, because of its anti-inflammatory action. It can be used in sprays, lozenges, syrups, among others.


In rare cases, when the patient has more than 4 tonsil infections per year, tonsillectomy surgery, called tonsillectomy, is recommended.

It is a measure of last resort, when it is not possible to control the amount of infections, even though all of them have been properly treated.

Living together

Living with a sore throat is common to everyone, especially allergic people who experience the symptom frequently. It is important that patients with bacterial infections undergo treatment until the end, as early discontinuation of medication can cause serious complications.

In general, living with the symptom is based on staying hydrated, staying at rest and taking medications correctly.

The patient must remember to avoid milk and milk products, as they thicken the mucus, which can worsen inflammation.

Another important thing is that many people believe that ice cream can help with sore throat, but this is not true .

Ice cream is indicated only when the tonsils are extracted, in which the person cannot consume solids and a diet with frozen foods is preferable.

Bacterial throat infection can cause bad breath , which bothers the patient and the people around them.

This happens due to the production of antibodies that fight against bacteria at the site, which causes cell and bacterial death, in addition to the presence of pus. This combination produces a different smell, which can be unpleasant for people.

It is common for the pain to get worse at night, as the throat is used as a means of clearing debris and fluids from the lungs. When the person lies down and is horizontal, this process is hampered and there may be more irritation in the throat.


In general, sore throat does not present many complications, except in the case of bacterial origin. Some complications are:

  • Dehydration: Patients who avoid drinking water or drinking other fluids due to pain are easily affected by dehydration;
  • Choking hazard: Excess mucus, if not properly eliminated, can suffocate the patient, especially at night, when the horizontal position does not favor correct elimination;
  • Rheumatic fever: This complication arises due to the inadequate administration of the treatment of bacterial infection by Streptococcus pyogenes. It is a serious complication that affects the heart and can lead to death.

How to prevent sore throat?

Sore throat from viral and bacterial infections can be easily prevented through good hygiene and limited contact with surfaces that may be contaminated. Some tips to avoid infection are:

  • Do not share glasses, cutlery and other personal effects with other people;
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, as this helps to eliminate germs and bacteria that may be on the skin;
  • When there is no way to wash your hands, use wet wipes;
  • Reduce exposure to irritating agents that can cause allergies, such as pollen, dust, animal hair, among others;
  • Avoid smoking or being around people smoking;
  • Have an air humidifier at home to prevent dryness.

Although it is a common symptom and usually passes quickly, a sore throat deserves attention when it is persistent or recurrent. Therefore, this text seeks to inform about the mechanisms of sore throat and the importance of paying attention to symptoms.

So that more people have this knowledge and can prevent further complications, share this text! If you have any questions, please contact us and we will respond.