UT University Health Services

Sore Throat

Most sore throats are caused by viruses. In these cases, antibiotics are not effective. However, sore throats can also be caused by bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics. A sore throat may be associated with many illnesses. If you also have symptoms of allergies, a cold, or the flu, read the information under those headings.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Throat pain
  • Red throat by itself or with blisters or ulcers (red spots)
  • Red, swollen tonsils or tonsils covered with white spots/pus (Call the UHS UHS Nurse Advice Line.)
  • Ear pain
  • Body aches
  • Tender, swollen glands in your neck
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea

Self-Care

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Drink 8 ounces of water, juice, or sports drinks every waking hour.
  • Gargle with a saltwater solution made of 1/2 teaspoon of table salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water. Don't swallow the saltwater.
  • Use over-the-counter throat lozenges.
  • Use a non prescription pain reliever to reduce fever as well as help with throat pain. (Ibuprofen is usually preferred.)
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and other irritants.

Over the Counter Medications for Sore Throat

  • Brand names listed as examples do not imply better quality over other brands. Generic equivalents may also exist.
  • Use only as directed on the package, unless your healthcare provider instructs you to do otherwise.
  • OTCs may interact with other medications or be potentially harmful if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your pharmacist about options that are right for you.
Sore Throat Lozenges:
example: Cepacol®
example: Cepastat®

Spray:
example: Chloraseptic®

Fever Reducers:
Acetaminophen 325 mg / 500mg (example: Tylenol®)
Ibuprofen (examples: Advil®, Motrin®)
Naproxen (example: Aleve®)

Forty Acres Pharmacy

The Forty Acres Pharmacy; located in the SSB 1.110 and operated by the UT College of Pharmacy, sells a wide variety of OTC allergy medications and treatments. Ask their pharmacists to help you choose appropriate medications or products for your symptoms.

CALL THE UHS NURSE ADVICE LINE AT (512) 475-6877 (NURS) IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Pus (white spots) on your tonsils
  • Significant swelling of your throat or tonsils
  • Drooling, difficulty opening your mouth or breathing, or the inability to eat or drink because of throat pain
  • Significant throat pain not helped by gargling, lozenges, or pain reliever
  • Fever of over 100.5 degrees F (38 degrees C) that doesn't come down after taking pain reliever or that lasts more than 72 hours
  • Significant ear pain
  • Skin rash that is red to coral in color and often has a texture like sandpaper

CALL 911 OR GO DIRECTLY TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM IF YOU EXPERIENCE SEVERE DIFFICULTY BREATHING.

Related Topics

Allergies (seasonal)
Cold and Flu Prevention
Common Cold
Headache
Hydration
Influenza
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