Sore throat

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Sore throat
Viral pharyngitis, the most common cause of a sore throat.
Classification and external resources
Specialty Otorhinolaryngology
ICD-10 J02, J31.2
ICD-9-CM 472.1
DiseasesDB 24580
MedlinePlus 000655
eMedicine emerg/419
MeSH D010612

Sore throat, also known as throat pain, is pain or irritation of the throat.

It is usually caused by pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) or tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils). It can also result from trauma.

About 7.5% of people have a sore throat in any three-month period.[1]


A sore throat is pain anywhere in the throat.[2]

Differential diagnosis[edit]

A sore throat is usually from irritation or inflammation. The most common cause (80%) is acute viral pharyngitis, a viral infection of the throat.[2] Other causes include other infections (such as streptococcal pharyngitis), trauma, and tumors.[2] Gastroesophageal (acid) reflux disease can cause stomach acid to back up into the throat and also cause the throat to become sore.[3] In children streptococcal pharyngitis is the cause of 37% of sore throats.[4]


Analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and paracetamol (acetaminophen) help in the management of pain.[5][6] The Mayo Clinic advises gargling with salty warm water and resting the voice. Symptoms without active treatment usually last two to seven days.[7]


In the United States there are about 2.4 million emergency department visits with throat-related complaints per year.[2]


  1. ^ Jones, Roger (2004). Oxford Textbook of Primary Medical Care. Oxford University Press. p. 674. ISBN 9780198567820. 
  2. ^ a b c d Marx, John (2010). Rosen's emergency medicine: concepts and clinical practice (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Mosby/Elsevier. p. Chapter 30. ISBN 978-0-323-05472-0. 
  3. ^ "Sore Throat and Other Throat Problems-Topic Overview". 
  4. ^ Shaikh N, Leonard E, Martin JM (September 2010). "Prevalence of streptococcal pharyngitis and streptococcal carriage in children: a meta-analysis". Pediatrics. 126 (3): e557–64. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2648. PMID 20696723. 
  5. ^ Thomas M, Del Mar C, Glasziou P (October 2000). "How effective are treatments other than antibiotics for acute sore throat?". Br J Gen Pract. 50 (459): 817–20. PMC 1313826free to read. PMID 11127175. 
  6. ^ Hayward, G; Thompson, MJ; Perera, R; Glasziou, PP; Del Mar, CB; Heneghan, CJ (Oct 17, 2012). Thompson, Matthew J, ed. "Corticosteroids as standalone or add-on treatment for sore throat". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 10: CD008268. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008268.pub2. PMID 23076943. 
  7. ^ Thompson, M; Vodicka, TA; Blair, PS; Buckley, DI; Heneghan, C; Hay, AD; TARGET Programme, Team (Dec 11, 2013). "Duration of symptoms of respiratory tract infections in children: systematic review.". BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 347: f7027. doi:10.1136/bmj.f7027. PMC 3898587free to read. PMID 24335668.