Sore Throat

How can I soothe my sore throat?

Having a sore throat is very common and doesn’t normally require any specific treatment. It’s believed that virus infections are responsible for up to 95% of sore throats in adults. Mr Prince Modayil, an expert ENT specialist in London, explains to our readers why a sore throat develops and how you can soothe the pain.

What are the symptoms of a sore throat?

The symptoms of a sore throat can develop gradually or suddenly and include pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat. Often this is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • pain when swallowing

  • a cough

  • a high fever

  • swollen neck glands

  • bad breath

  • Earache (referred pain)

What are the causes of a sore throat?

When you develop a sore throat it isn’t always that obvious what is causing it, but it’s usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, such as:

  • upper respiratory tract infection or flu

  • tonsillitis (includes quinsy)

  • laryngitis (includes epiglottitis & supraglottitis)

  • bacterial streptococcal throat infection (strep throat)

  • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

What helps a sore throat?

People with a sore throat usually take ibuprofen and/or paracetamol to relieve the pain. Paracetamol is better for children and for those who can't take ibuprofen. Aspirin is also a type of pain relief medicine that you may decide to use, but this should never be taken by children under 16.

There also some simple home treatments to help soothe a sore throat, such as drinking plenty of cool or warm fluids and avoiding very hot drinks. Also, to not aggravate the inflammation, try to eat only cool, soft foods and avoid smoking and smoky places. Finally, gargling a homemade mouthwash of warm, salty water and sucking on lozenges and ice can help reduce pain.

Some parents like to give their children ice cream or ice lollies, but it’s very important not to give young children anything small and hard to suck on due to the risk of choking.

Why do I keep getting sore throats?

There are several reasons why you might be having a persistent or reoccurring sore throat.

Unhealthy tonsils

It’s common for people to have problems with their tonsils. Contracting tonsillitis frequently can happen to people who have unhealthy tonsils and it often requires treatment with antibiotics.

Low immunity

Most of the time, our immune system protects us against infections, but for some people who have weaker immune systems, it can make them more prone to infections.


Stress to cause you to develop a sore throat. Being stressed can affect your immune system and cause you to feel run down, making you more predisposed to infection.

Smoking and irritants

Outdoor, and indoor air pollution from traffic or chemicals can irritate and cause a sore throat. Smoking, as well as excessive alcohol use, is also a cause of a sore throat.


Having an allergy to pollen, moulds, dust and pets can irritate the throat, so taking antihistamines or avoiding allergens is the best way to get rid of this type of sore throat.

Postnasal drip

Postnasal drip is when there is a build-up of thick mucus at the back of your throat. Having this condition can cause a sore throat and additional problems swallowing.

When should I see a doctor about a sore throat?

A sore throat normally lasts for around four to five days. If it lasts longer than a week than you should see your GP.

If you develop a severe sore throat and have difficulty swallowing or you make a high pitched sound when you breathe (stridor) you must get urgent advice or medical care. This is also the case if you find yourself drooling or you have swelling in your neck or face.

Mr Prince Modayil is one of London's leading ENT specialists. To book an appointment with him, visit his profile and book online.