Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A sore throat caused by viral infection — the most common cause — usually lasts five to seven days and doesn't require medical treatment.

Treating bacterial infections

If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. Penicillin taken by mouth for 10 days is the most common antibiotic treatment prescribed for infections such as strep throat. If you're allergic to penicillin, your doctor will prescribe an alternative antibiotic.

You must take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed even if the symptoms go away completely. Failure to take all of the medication as directed may result in the infection worsening or spreading to other parts of the body. Not completing the full course of antibiotics to treat strep throat can, in particular, increase a child's risk of rheumatic fever and serious kidney inflammation.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what to do if you forget to take a dose.

Other treatments

If a sore throat is a symptom of a condition other than a viral or bacterial infection, other treatments will likely be considered depending on the diagnosis.

May. 07, 2013