We encourage you to practice good hygiene and physical distancing to help slow the spread
of germs. If you are experiencing symptoms of fever, coughing, sore throat or shortness of
breath, you should seek medical advice from a doctor (including pathology testing) and stay
at home. Where any conflict may arise between the Department of Health’s advice and any
information on this website, please follow advice from the Department of Health’s health
Understanding the causes of sore throat
A dry, irritated sore throat often signals the start of a cold1 – and that’s because the most common cause of a sore throat in both adults and children is a viral infection such as the common cold or the flu.2,3Another common cause of sore throats, particularly in children, is a bacterial infection.2-4
These infections cause inflammation in your throat, which results in pain, redness, and swelling – making it difficult and often painful to swallow.3,5,6 Throat infections are often accompanied by cold and flu symptoms such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough, and may also result in a high fever and sore swollen glands or tonsils.2,3
Now that you know what causes a sore throat, you’re probably wondering about sore throat treatment. The important thing to know about sore throats is that these viral and bacterial infections are usually self-limiting. That means they will resolve on their own in about a week.2,3 But what can you do to feel better while your body is fighting off the infection? Let’s take a look at how to relieve a sore throat and manage your symptoms at home.
How to help a sore throat
What to do if you have a sore throat? Most sore throats associated with colds and flu will resolve on their own in about a week, so treatment for sore throat typically involves symptomatic relief with home remedies for sore throat and sore throat medicine.2,3
However, it is important to see your doctor if you have any concerns about your sore throat or any other symptoms. You should also seek medical help if you experience any of the following:2,3
- Symptoms that worsen or do not improve within 3 to 7 days, especially fever
- New symptoms
- Severe throat or neck pain or stiffness
- Difficulty breathing
- Muffled voice or hoarseness
Sore throat remedies at home
Sore throats usually make swallowing more difficult and often downright painful, which may mean you start to avoid eating or drinking. To help relieve your throat discomfort, try switching up what you eat and drink. But what helps soothe a sore throat?
Sip on warm drinks
Warm drinks such as tea can help soothe throat discomfort.
Add honey to warm water
Honey is a demulcent – a type of food that coats the throat, helping to relieve irritation and pain.
Suck on cold foods
Foods such as ice cubes and ice blocks can numb your throat, which helps to ease throat pain when swallowing, and offers the added benefit of keeping you hydrated. Ice cream or frozen yoghurt can also deliver that numbing effect while helping keep your energy levels up.
Gargle salt water
Try gargling or rinsing out your mouth with warm salty water. This may also help reduce throat irritation or discomfort.
To help prevent becoming dehydrated while you are managing your sore throat, make sure you drink adequate amounts of liquid. You can try warming or cooling your drinks to help reduce irritation and soothe your throat.
Choose soft foods
Eating mild, soft, and warm foods such as soup can be easier to swallow and less irritating to a painful sore throat than spicy, rough-textured, or room temperature foods.
Give these ideas a go and you will hopefully find a remedy for sore throat that works for you.
Sore throat medicine
After making sure your foods and drinks soothe rather than irritate your sore throat, you may be wondering how to relieve a sore throat quickly. For this, you can try a medicated product.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or paracetamol can help reduce pain and fever associated with sore throats.
Medicated lozenges and throat sprays
For a sore throat remedy that delivers fast relief, try medicated lozenges and throat sprays that contain antibacterial agents to help kill bacteria that can cause throat infections, anaesthetic agents to numb the throat, or anti-inflammatory agents to reduce inflammation.
Discover the Strepsils®range of medicated lozenges and throat sprays for fast and effective relief from painful, sore throats.
- Strepsils Lozenges deliver double antibacterial action for fast and effective relief from throat discomfort. Available in a range of flavours.
- Strepsils Plus Blocked Nose Relief Lozenges contain double antibacterial action to relieve sore throats, plus menthol to help unblock the nose.
- Strepsils Plus Anaesthetic Lozenges contain double antibacterial action to fight sore throats, plus anaesthetic action to numb the throat. Also available in a throat spray.
- Strepsils Extra Lozenges combine antibacterial and anaesthetic action to provide relief from painful inflamed sore throats.
- Strepfen®Intensive Lozenges contain an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving ingredient to deliver relief from the painful swelling and tenderness of an inflamed sore throat. Also available in a throat spray.
How to prevent a sore throat
Armed with information about how to relieve a sore throat, what about prevention? The best way to prevent a sore throat is to practice good hygiene to limit the spread of infection.
Keep your hands clean
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 30 seconds,4 making sure you clean all parts of your hands and fingers thoroughly. If you can’t access a sink, try disinfecting your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
Always use a disposable tissue or your inner elbow to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Remember to wash or disinfect your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Stay at home
If you feel unwell, stay at home to prevent spreading any germs. Also try to limit your contact with other people who are sick and avoid touching the nose, mouth, or eyes.
1. Eccles 2005. 2. Therapeutic Guidelines. Sore throat. June 2019. Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd (eTG March 2021 edition). 3. Chow, Doron. In: Aronson MD (Ed); UpToDate. Waltham, MA; 2021. 4. Wald. In: Edwards MS (Ed). UpToDate. Waltham, MA; 2021. 5. ESCMID Sore Throat Guideline Group, et al. 2012. 6. InformedHealth.org (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Germany). What is an inflammation? Available here
Strepsils: Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
Strepfen: This medicine may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.