Sore Throat - Topic Overview
Sore throats can be painful and annoying.
Fortunately, most sore throats are caused by a minor illness and go away
without medical treatment.
Several conditions can cause a sore
Many sore throats are caused by a
viral illness, such as:
bacterial infection may also cause a sore throat. This
can occur from:
Irritants and injuries
A sore throat that lasts
longer than a week is often caused by irritants or an injuries, such as:
- Throat irritation from low humidity, smoking,
air pollution, yelling, or nasal drainage down the back of the throat (postnasal drip ).
- Breathing through the mouth when you have allergies
or a stuffy nose.
- Stomach acid that backs up into the throat, which
may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although
GERD often occurs with
heartburn, an acid taste in the mouth, or a cough,
sometimes a sore throat is the only symptom.
- An injury to the back
of the throat, such as a cut or puncture from falling with a pointed object in
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition
that causes extreme tiredness.
Treatment for a sore throat depends on the cause. You may
be able to use home treatment to obtain relief.
illnesses are the most common cause of a sore throat, it is important not to
use antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics do not alter the course of viral
infections. Unnecessary use of an antibiotic exposes you to the risks of an
allergic reaction and antibiotic side effects, such as
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics also may
kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous
Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a
For more information, see:
- Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?