• By Laurel Kelly

Consumer Health: When does your sore throat need medical attention?

January 5, 2021
a middle aged man, perhaps Latino, with black and gray hair and wearing a white mask while wincing in pain and holding his hand to his throat

Your throat is sore. It feels scratchy and irritated, and it hurts to swallow. Do you need rest and warm water with honey, or a visit to your health care provider?

That depends.

The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus usually resolves on its own in five to seven days and doesn't require medical attention. In the meantime, at-home care strategies and home remedies can ease your symptoms.

Strep throat, a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, needs to be treated with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of sore throat might require more complex treatment.

Learn more about the symptoms and causes of sore throat, and when you need to seek medical care.