How Long Does Sore Throat Last with COVID?

Reviewed on 1/7/2022

Sore throat, an early symptom of COVID for about half of people with the illness, tends to be mild and usually lasts on average two to three days, and no more than five days.
Sore throat, an early symptom of COVID for about half of people with the illness, tends to be mild and usually lasts on average two to three days, and no more than five days.

COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, that is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

  • Sore throat is an early symptom of COVID, affecting about half of people who have the illness.
  • Sore throats associated with COVID tend to be mild and usually last on average two to three days, and no more than five days.
  • If a sore throat is severe and lasts longer than five days it may be a sign of another condition, such as a bacterial infection. 

Symptoms of COVID appear about 2 to 14 days after exposure and include:

Emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention (call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital’s emergency department): 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face
  • New confusion or inability to arouse

How Is COVID Diagnosed?

COVID is diagnosed with a physical examination and a patient history which will include asking if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus. 

If COVID is suspected, tests used to diagnose the virus include: 

  • PCR tests (genetic or molecular test) 
    • Results can take hours to up to one week
    • More accurate than an antigen test
  • Antigen test
    • Results are available in less than one hour
    • Less accurate than a PCR test

An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. 

What Is the Treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

Treating COVID at Home

In mild cases, staying home and self-isolating for 14 days is recommended to avoid spreading the virus. Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Pain relievers 
  • Cough suppressants
  • Rest
  • Adequate fluid intake

Monoclonal Antibodies 

  • Casirivimab/imdevimab (Regen-COV), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. 
  • Regen-COV is effective against the Delta variant of COVID, but it has been shown to be less effective against the Omicron variant. 
  • Tixagevimab/cilgavimab (Evusheld), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19 in certain adults and pediatric individuals (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms [about 88 pounds]). 
  • Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

COVID Hospitalization

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Antithrombotic therapy - anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Hydroxychloroquine

  • Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment, but studies have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrythmias, and it is not recommended. 

Ivermectin

  • Ivermectin has also been suggested as a possible treatment for COVID. While ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals.
  • Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19 and taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.

How Do You Prevent COVID-19?

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is vaccination. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all eligible individuals be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 
    • FDA-approved for individuals 16 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for children between the ages of 5 and 11 
      • One-third the dose given to adolescents and adults, delivered with a smaller needle
  • Requires 2 shots administered 3 weeks apart

Two additional vaccines have emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for use to prevent COVID-19: 

  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires 2 shots administered 4 weeks apart
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires just one injection 

The CDC recommends everyone 18 years and older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine get a booster shot 6 months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. 

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for individuals 18 years and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

People can choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive as a booster shot, and the CDC recommendations allow for mixing and matching vaccines. 

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Reviewed on 1/7/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/

https://covid.joinzoe.com/post/covid-symptoms-sore-throat

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use-children-5-through-11-years-age

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/regeneron-says-antibody-therapy-has-lower-potency-against-omicron-2021-12-16/

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-new-long-acting-monoclonal-antibodies-pre-exposure