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Sore throat


  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Gargle with warm salt water to help with pain. Most recipes call for ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces (approximately 240 mL) of warm water.
  • Cough drops or hard candy can soothe a dry, irritated throat
  • Sore throat lozenges or sprays to numb the throat
  • Use a vaporizer or hot shower steam to breathe in moist heat
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain as directed. Do not take more than 2,400 mg of ibuprofen or 3,000 mg of acetaminophen per day. Avoid using aspirin if you are under 19 years old.
  • Avoid smoking and smoky areas


To avoid catching or passing illnesses that can lead to a sore throat:

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away
  • Eat healthily and stay well-rested
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Do not share items that come in contact with the mouth such as lip balm, cups, straws, eating utensils, washcloths, smoking materials, or vape pens.


A clinician swabs the throat and sends the sample to the lab to test for group A strep. Rapid strep test results are available later that day. If the test is positive for strep throat, you will be contacted by a provider. Current guidelines do not recommend throat cultures for adults.

Other kinds of strep bacteria may be present in the culture, but these do not necessarily need antibiotics. Depending on the severity of illness, the provider may want to discuss symptoms and treatment.

Safe use of antibiotics

Antibiotics should only be taken when prescribed. Overuse of antibiotics can give rise to bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics and therefore more difficult to treat. Antibiotics can lead to yeast infections or diarrhea. Rarely, people experience allergic reactions to antibiotics. Inform your provider if you have allergies or if you’re currently taking any medications.

When taking antibiotics, remember to:

  • Take antibiotics according to the instructions and for the full time specified, even if symptoms subside before treatment is completed. Patients who stop earlier are more likely to relapse or develop complications.
  • Contact your provider if any side effects occur during treatment.