Sore throat

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For other uses, see Sore throat (disambiguation).
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

A sore throat (or throat pain) is pain or irritation of the throat. A common physical symptom, it is usually caused by acute pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat), although it can also appear as a result of trauma, diphtheria, or other conditions.


A sore throat is pain anywhere in the throat.[1]

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.[1] Other causes include other infections (such as streptococcal pharyngitis), trauma, and tumors.[1] Gastroesophageal (acid) reflux disease can cause stomach acid to back up into the throat and also cause the throat to become sore.[2] In children streptococcal pharyngitis is the cause of 37% of sore throats.[3]


Analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and paracetamol (acetaminophen) help in the management of pain.[4][5] The Mayo Clinic advises gargling with salty warm water and resting the voice. Symptoms without active treatment usually last two to seven days.[6]


In the United States there are about 2.4 million emergency department visits with throat-related complaints per year.[1]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ "Sore Throat and Other Throat Problems-Topic Overview". 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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.