Sore throat? Here’s what to do

A sore throat is any painful, scratchy or dry feeling in the throat.

Sore throats have many different causes. Some are brought on by viral or bacterial infections; others are caused allergies, dry air or environmental irritants.

Common signs and symptoms of a sore throat:

  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Tenderness
  • A raw feeling.
  • Irritation
  • Scratchiness

Why is your throat sore?

Colds, the flu and other viral infections

Viruses are responsible for approximately 90% of sore throats.

Common viral infections that could lead to a sore throat include:

  • The common cold.
  • The flu.
  • Chickenpox (an infection that leaves you with a fever and an itchy rash).
  • Mumps (an infection that causes your salivary glands to swell in the neck).
  • Tonsillitis (swelling and redness of the tonsils and the soft tissue at the back of the mouth).
  • Laryngitis (swelling and redness of the voice box).
  • Measles (a fairly serious infection, which causes a rash and fever).

Strep throat and bacterial infections

Some sore throats are caused by bacteria. The most common infection in which bacteria are to blame is called strep throat. Strep throat occurs when your throat and tonsils are infected by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus. This is a dangerous infection that, if left untreated, can affect your heart – one of the reasons why a sore throat should never be ignored.


When you encounter allergens like grass and pollen to which you are allergic, it may cause swelling and inflammation in the nose. These allergens could also bring on symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, throat irritation and, you guessed it, a sore throat.

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Chemicals and smoke

Some chemicals and substances in the environment irritate your throat and make it sore. These include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and some household cleaning products.

Dry air

During the colder months, dry air can suck the moisture from your mouth and throat. Your throat might become sore, dry and scratchy.


Injuries like a cut in the neck or getting hit in the neck can leave you with a sore throat. If food or other substances get stuck in your throat, you may feel irritation as well. Screaming, talking too much (or too loudly), or singing for a long period can injure your vocal cords. These could all make your throat feel sore too.

Relieve a sore throat:

  • Drink warm liquids like soup, warm water with lemon, and hot tea with honey to soothe your throat.
  • Suck on a lozenge.
  • Rest your voice until you feel better.
  • Gargle your mouth with warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt.
  • Eat something cool like an ice lolly or ice-cream.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

If you have a bacterial throat infection, you’ll need to see your doctor for treatment. Treatment could include antibiotics and pain medication. If you try home remedies and your throat isn’t feeling better within 10 days, go to your doctor immediately.