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 Illnesses and Antibiotic Resistance

Sore Throat

Most sore throats are caused by a virus. Only throat infections caused by Group A strep bacteria need an antibiotic.

On this page:
Will antibiotics help?
What can you do if you or your child have a sore throat?
More about sore throats

Will antibiotics help?

  • Not usually.
  • Most sore throats are caused by a virus and antibiotics will not help.
  • Only throat infections caused by Group A strep bacteria need an antibiotic.
  • Your health care provider can do a lab test and if Group A strep bacteria is present and prescribe an antibiotic.

What can you do if you or your child have a sore throat?

  • You need lots of extra rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water and juice) and eat healthy foods.
  • Take acetaminophen* for muscle aches or fever.
  • Cough syrup* may relieve cough symptoms.
  • Throat losenges (for older children and adults only) can ease a sore throat.
  • A cool mist vaporizer may help too.
    * Follow package directions for age & dose or your health care providers’ instructions.

  • Viral infections (like chest colds, acute bronchitis, and most sore throats) resolve on their own but symptoms can last several days or as long as a couple weeks.

More about sore throats: