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How to soothe a sore throat

Man with sore throat holding neck
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When you have a sore throat, it can be uncomfortable to eat, drink and talk. That's why it's important to get the best medicine and advice to feel back to normal. In-store, our pharmacists can offer advice as well as a range of over the counter treatments that can help make you feel better.

What causes a sore throat?

Sore throats are usually caused by an infection, which can be bacterial or viral. Most sore throats are caused by viruses, but some can be bacterial. Visit your GP for a sore throat test, this will establish if your sore throat is strep throat, an infection caused by group A streptococcus (Strep A). Our pharmacists can also offer advice and treatments for sore throats.

What are the symptoms of a sore throat?

The symptoms of a sore throat and the severity of them can vary from person to person; you may find that the scratchy feeling in your throat is accompanied by a cough or headache.

Sore throat symptoms include:

  • Pain in your throat especially when swallowing
  • Swollen glands on the side of your neck and throat
  • An accompanying cough
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • A dry scratchy throat
  • The back of your throat may appear red or have spots

You may also experience:

  • A hoarse voice
  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Earache
  • A sore and painful tongue

How to treat a sore throat

Most adults will get the occasional sore throat, but there are lots of products out there to help ease the pain. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen will help with the pain and to reduce a high temperature if you have one. Ibuprofen can also reduce swelling if your throat is swollen and sore. You could also try throat sprays which contain local anaesthetics to numb your throat.

Your pharmacist can also help with pain relief, speak to them if:

  • You're taking any medication - some can cause sore throats or weaken your immune system
  • You've got a medical condition which weakens your immune system
  • There's no improvement after seven days
  • You've got a high temperature which doesn't go down
  • You've got a history of rheumatic fever
  • You have bad breath
  • You have swollen glands

Can you cure a sore throat?

Yes, some sore throat infections are curable and there are plenty of ways that you can soothe a sore throat. The sore throat treatment that is right for you will depend upon what is causing your pain, whether it is a viral or bacterial infection.

How can I relieve the symptoms of a sore throat?

There are plenty of sore throat remedies available, this ranges from natural treatments to over the counter medication, browse our sore throat medicines here. The best remedy for sore throat will depend upon what is causing your sore throat. Come into your local store and one of our expert Pharmacists will be able to advise you about the best treatment options. The best thing for a sore throat is rest, this will help your body to fight the infection and heal.

Natural remedies to ease a sore throat

There are many ways that you can help soothe a sore throat without taking medication, and two of the best things to help your body cure a sore throat are plenty of rest and fluids.

You can also:

  • Avoid food and drink that's too hot, although warm drinks can help soothe your throat
  • Suck on sweets (sugar-free preferably), lozenges or ice cubes
  • Avoid smoky environments
  • Gargle with warm salt water
  • Rest your voice
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can dehydrate you

How can I get rid of a sore throat fast?

If you are feeling fed up and feel like you have a constant sore throat you will want to find a way that you can quickly get rid of sore throat, however this may not always be possible. There are medicines, such as lozenges and sprays that you can use to help ease symptoms.

Can I get antibiotics for a strep throat?

Yes, however the treatment you receive will depend upon what is causing your sore throat.

I have a recurring sore throat, what can I do?

If you have a persistent sore throat, then talk to your pharmacist they will be able to offer treatment advice.

Can having a sore throat while pregnant hurt the baby?

It’s common for women to catch colds and experience a sore throat during their pregnancy. This shouldn’t harm your baby, but it can make you feel run down and tired, make sure that you are getting as much sleep as you can and are eating a healthy diet. If you are concerned talk to your Pharmacist, midwife or GP.

What can you take for a sore throat while pregnant?

Before taking any medication to ease your symptoms speak to your Pharmacist, as some ingredients are not suitable for pregnant women. However, paracetamol should be your first choice of painkiller if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it will have no harmful effects on you or your baby.*

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