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Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better within a week.
Most are caused by minor illnesses such as colds or flu and can be treated at home.
The following measures can often help soothe a sore throat:
There are also products such as medicated lozenges and sprays sold in pharmacies that you may want to try. There isn't much scientific evidence to suggest they help, although some people find them worth using.
Antibiotics aren't usually prescribed for a sore throat, even if it's caused by a bacterial infection, as they're unlikely to make you feel better any quicker and they can have unpleasant side effects.
The cause of a sore throat isn't always obvious. But in most cases it's a symptom of a viral or bacterial infection.
A sore throat is often a symptom of:
It may also be caused by something irritating your throat, such as smoke, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (where acid leaks up from the stomach), and allergies.
Less often, a sore throat can be a sign of:
These conditions are more serious and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible (see below).
You don't usually need to get medical advice if you have a sore throat.
But it's a good idea to contact your doctor if:
Very rarely, a sore throat can be a sign of a serious problem.
Visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call for an ambulance immediately if:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.