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Sore Throat (cont.)

How to Cure Sore Throat

The cure for sore throat depends upon the exact cause. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections but are not effective in viral infections. There is no medical cure for sore throats caused by viral infections, and supportive care is usually all that is needed. People with epiglottitis usually require IV antibiotics and a hospital admission; a few people may require breathing assistance (intubation).

Sore Throat Home Remedies

Treatment of pain is often the number one priority if you have a sore throat. Some of these home remedies and self-care steps may help alleviate the pain from a sore throat.

  • Throat lozenges often prove inadequate for all but the most minor cases.
  • Gargling with salt water is sometimes helpful. (The person may try mixing table salt with warm water and gargling.)
  • Although they may be rough on the stomach, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen) are often more effective pain relievers than acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Drinking plenty of fluids is very important.
    • A fever can increase fluid requirements, and painful swallowing can decrease fluid intake.
    • When it is hard for a person to drink, it is important to decrease the body's requirements for fluid through rest and lowering any fever.
    • Pain treatment can help increase fluid intake.
    • Choose high-quality fluids such as soup broth (replaces both salt and water losses) and sugar-containing solutions (they help the body absorb the fluids more rapidly).
    • Avoid caffeine because it can cause water loss.
  • Getting extra sleep can promote more rapid recovery, especially if a virus is the cause. Malaise (a general feeling of illness) is the body's cry for rest.

Sore Throat Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

Care of a sore throat involves treatment of pain, dehydration, or difficulty breathing (airway problems are common with croup or epiglottitis).

  • Antibiotics
  • Antibiotics are not helpful when a virus is the cause of a sore throat.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the cause is viral or bacterial, so antibiotics may be prescribed as a precaution. Rely on your physician's recommendation of whether atibiotics are needed.
  • Antibiotics speed the resolution of a strep throat by an average of only 1.5 days.
  • Antibiotics are helpful in preventing rheumatic fever (an uncommon but severe complication of a streptococcal infection, which may cause severe inflammation of the heart muscle and heart valves).
  • Corticosteroids can be helpful in the treatment of a few select types of sore throats. Although they impair immune function, the anti-inflammatory effect can be very useful. They are mostly used in cases of severe tonsillitis, eppiglottitis, or in cases of croup.

Sore Throat Surgery

Surgical drainage of an abscess behind a tonsil (peritonsillar abscess) or between the spine and pharynx (retropharyngeal abscess) is required in rare cases. Tonsillectomy or surgical removal of the tonsils is occasionally indicated for tonsillitis that returns often (once a month) or that causes breathing or sleep problems.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/16/2016

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