Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better by themselves within a week.
How to treat a sore throat yourself
To help soothe a sore throat and shorten how long it lasts, you can:
- gargle with warm, salty water (children should not try this)
- drink plenty of water
- eat cool or soft foods
- avoid smoking or smoky places
- suck ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets – but do not give young children anything small and hard to suck because of the risk of choking
A pharmacist can help with sore throats
To help relieve the pain and discomfort of a sore throat, you can:
- use paracetamol or ibuprofen
- use medicated lozenges or anaesthetic sprays (although there's little proof they help)
You can buy them from a supermarket or from a pharmacist without a prescription.
See a GP if:
- your sore throat does not improve after a week
- you often get sore throats
- you're worried about your sore throat
- you have a sore throat and a very high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
- you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of diabetes or chemotherapy
A severe or long-lasting sore throat could be something like strep throat (a bacterial throat infection).
GPs do not normally prescribe antibiotics for sore throats because they will not usually relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.
They'll only be prescribed if your GP thinks you could have a bacterial infection.
Call 999 if:
- you have difficulty swallowing or breathing
- you're drooling
- you're making a high-pitched sound as you breathe (called stridor)
- your symptoms are severe and getting worse quickly
These symptoms can make breathing more difficult.
Causes and symptoms of sore throats
Sore throats are usually caused by viruses (like cold or flu) or from smoking. Very occasionally they can be caused by bacteria.
- a painful throat, especially when swallowing
- a dry, scratchy throat
- redness in the back of the mouth
- bad breath
- a mild cough
- swollen neck glands
The symptoms are similar for children, but children can also get a temperature and appear less active.
Page last reviewed: 15-01-2018
Next review due:15-01-2021
ProstatitisProstatitis is where the prostate gland becomes inflamed (swollen). It’s sometimes caused by a bacterial infection, although more often no infection can be found and it’s not clear why it happened.
Unlike prostate enlargement or prostate cancer, which usually affect older men prostatitis can develop in men of all ages. However, it’s generally more common in men aged between 30 and 50.
Symptoms of prostatitis can include:
- pain in the pelvis, genitals, lower back and buttocks
- pain when urinating
- a frequent need to pee
- difficulty urinating, such as problems starting to pee
- pain when ejaculating
- pain in the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum), which is often made worse by prolonged sitting
See your GP if you have these symptoms.Prostatitis can be treated using a combination of painkillers and a type of medication called an alpha-blocker, which can help to relax the muscles of the prostate and bladder neck. Medication that shrinks the prostate gland may also be helpful.
Most men will recover within a few weeks or months, although some will continue to have symptoms for longer.