Sore Throat: Symptoms & Treatment

Sore throat – tips against scratchy throat

Inflammation of the pharynx and the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat is called sore throat or pharyngitis in technical terms. Throat inflammation is one of the most common clinical pictures in the family doctor’s office and affects many people, especially in the cold season. We inform you about the symptoms and treatment of a sore throat and reveal classic home remedies.

Symptoms of a sore throat

A sore throat often begins with the typical scratchy throat. As the disease progresses, other symptoms develop:

  • Pain when speaking and swallowing
  • A foreign body or globus sensation in the throat caused by swelling of the throat wall
  • dry, rough feeling in the throat and the associated urge to cough or clear your throat
  • Reddening of the pharyngeal mucosa

In severe cases, the mucous membrane can swell so much that breathing is impeded. General symptoms such as fever, runny nose and swollen and tender lymph nodes, especially in the throat and neck area, often co-occur.

If the inflammation spreads to the bronchi, coughing occurs. The voice can also be hoarse if the throat infection has spread to the larynx and vocal folds.

Causes of a sore throat

Viral pharyngitis and bacterial pharyngitis can be distinguished. However, the more common cause of sore throat is viruses. These are often influenza viruses or viruses that generally affect the respiratory tract, such as adeno- and parainfluenza viruses.

Sometimes, a sore throat presents as one of many symptoms of the common cold or other infection that affects the entire body.

As soon as the pharyngeal wall is infected and inflamed, there is a risk that additional concomitant infections from bacteria, such as streptococci, will settle in the mucous membrane. A sore throat is the main symptom here, and a high fever and painfully swollen lymph nodes in the neck can also occur.

If there is a general weakness of the immune system, such as in the context of infection with the HI virus, this can manifest as an increased sore throat, among other things. A sore throat can also occur as part of an allergic reaction.

If the sore throat is viral or bacterial, it is also contagious. Infection occurs via droplets, for example, when sneezing or coughing.

Home remedies for sore throat

Anyone suffering from pharyngitis should avoid drafts and cooling down, take it easy on their bodies, and ensure they get enough sleep. Smoking or alcohol consumption should be avoided in order not to dry out the throat further and thus increase the sore throat. Sports should also be avoided with a sore throat to avoid putting additional strain on the body.

As soon as the first symptoms of a mild sore throat appear, home remedies can help. These include, for example:

  • Warm teas, especially sage or thyme tea, are anti-inflammatory.
  • Inhaling sage tea or salt water can moisten the mucous membranes. 
  • Gargling with eucalyptus oil diluted in water will help disinfect.
  • Cough drops moisten the throat.
  • Wrap a towel soaked in cold water and wrung out around your neck. A dry towel is laid over this. This has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect.


medication for the pain

Medications such as throat lozenging with an anaesthetic and decongestant effect on the pharyngeal mucosa can help with a sore throat. They have an analgesic and salivating effect and thus help the mucous membrane to regenerate. These drugs can be purchased at pharmacies without a prescription. In addition, depending on the symptoms, antipyretic and pain-relieving drugs can also be helpful and should be prescribed by the doctor.

In particular, prescription medication such as antibiotics may also be necessary for bacterial concomitant infections. In the case of general diseases or other underlying conditions, this must be treated primarily, for example, an allergy with the help of antiallergic drugs.


So far, there is no scientific evidence about the benefits of homoeopathic treatment of pharyngitis. Herbal medicines recommended by homoeopaths can be used in individual cases as a supplement to treating pharyngitis in the case of mild symptoms. Such mild forms of viral pharyngitis usually heal independently without complications.

Sore throat: When should you see a doctor?

How long you can observe the symptoms yourself before a visit to the doctor is recommended depends on the individual case. As a general guideline, a doctor should be consulted when the sore throat is accompanied by more severe general symptoms, such as high fever or shortness of breath, or if a bacterial infection has accompanied the sore throat.

The duration of an acute sore throat is usually a maximum of one week. A doctor should be consulted if the symptoms do not improve within this period or even worsen. See a doctor if you have unusual symptoms, such as a rash, is also advisable.

The doctor can confirm the diagnosis with the help of a throat examination and possible accompanying blood tests or further examinations. So it is essential to distinguish between a sore throat, possible bacterial tonsillitis (angina tonsillitis) or dangerous forms of laryngitis or epiglottis inflammation, laryngitis or epiglottitis. Contagious diseases such as rubella or measles should also be differentiated from uncomplicated and mild pharyngitis.


Chronic pharyngitis

Chronic pharyngitis is present when the inflammation of the pharyngeal mucous membranes lasts longer than three months. The main symptoms are a dry, sore throat, the associated compulsion to clear your throat, and a Globus sensation. 

As a rule, chronic sore throat is not caused by viruses or bacteria. Instead, the inflammation is caused by permanent irritation of the mucous membranes.

There are various triggers for this:

  • cigarette smoke
  • an allergic reaction
  • arid, dusty air
  • obstruction of nasal breathing
  • rising stomach acid ( heartburn )
  • hormonal changes (e.g. due to an underactive thyroid gland)

The family doctor or ear, nose and throat doctor should first determine the underlying cause, even in the case of chronic sore throat, and then treat it accordingly.


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