Sore Throat Overview, Symptoms, Treatments

Wake Forest Sore throats can cause pain, a scratchy sensation or inflammation of the throat which often gets worsen with swallowing. A viral infection, such as the common cold or flu, is the most common cause of a sore throat. Sore throats which are from a virus are typically resolved on their own over time.

Strep throat, however, a less common cause for a sore throat which is due to bacteria. Antibiotics are required in order to treat strep and prevent further complications. Other causes for a sore throat, which are far less common, may require other forms of treatment.

Common symptoms of a sore throat will vary based on the cause, but may include the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Pain, scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Pain which is worse when talking or swallowing
  • Red, swollen, red tonsils
  • Sore, swollen glands in the neck or jaw area
  • White patches on the tonsils

When a sore throat is caused by an infection, it may result in the following signs and symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should get immediate emergency medical treatment:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Unusual amounts of drooling, which can indicate the inability to swallow


In most cases, a virus such as the common cold or flu is the cause of a sore throat. While it is less common, a bacterial infection can also be the culprit for a sore throat.

Viral illnesses which can cause a sore throat include:

  • Chickenpox
  • Common cold
  • COVID-19
  • Croup
  • Flu
  • Measles
  • Mono

Bacterial infections can also cause a sore throat. The most common infection is is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) which is the cause for strep throat.

Other causes for a sore throat can include the following:

  • Allergies: It is common for people to experience allergies to pet dander, molds, dust and pollen which may result in a sore throat.
  • Dryness: Dry indoor air can also give your throat a rough and scratchy feeling. Breathing through your mouth, which often takes place due to chronic nasal congestion, can also cause a sore throat.
  • Environmental irritants: Outdoor and indoor air pollution such as tobacco smoke or chemicals can cause a sore throat.
  • Chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods also can also cause throat irritation.
  • Muscle strain: The muscles in your throat can also be strained by yelling, talking loudly or talking for extended periods without any rest.


The best way to prevent a sore throat is to stay healthy and avoid germs and irritants which cause sore throats, in addition to practicing good hygiene. Below are recommendations for good oral hygiene and avoiding the spread of germs:

  • Avoid sharing utensils, glasses, and food
  • Avoid contact with high traffic areas when possible, such as elevator buttons, drinking fountains and door knobs
  • Avoid making close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean items which are frequently touched such as telephones, TV remotes and computer keyboards
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it. When this is not possible, sneeze into your elbow away from others
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. This is especially important after using the bathroom, prior to eating, and after sneezing or coughing
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available

What is the Reason for My Sore Throat?