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
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
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For sore throats caused by strep, treatment with antibiotics may be needed.
Decongestants make breathing easier by
shrinking swollen mucous membranes in the nose, allowing air to pass through.
They also help relieve a runny nose and postnasal drip, which can cause a sore
Decongestants can be taken orally or used as
decongestant nasal sprays. Oral decongestants (pills)
are probably more effective and provide longer relief but may cause more side
If you have
mononucleosis, do not share eating or drinking
utensils to prevent spreading the virus to others. A brief kiss on the lips is
not likely to spread mono; it is spread when saliva from an infected person
enters another person's mouth.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.