Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)

Learn about sore throats and book an appointment with a PillSorted online pharmacist to get further consultation on treatments and prescriptions.

Online consultation, no queues
Funded by the NHS
Soar throat sufferer


Sore throat, or pharyngitis, is a common inflammation or irritation of the throat, often characterised by pain, scratchiness, or discomfort in the pharynx—the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity. It is usually nothing to worry about and will last no longer than 1 week.

Getting help for soar throat


Sore throats are usually caused by cold and flu viruses or from smoking, but they can be induced by many things, including:

  • Viral Infections such as the common cold, flu (influenza), laryngitis, tonsillitis, glandular fever, measles, chickenpox, Coronavirus (COVID), croup, or mononucleosis (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus).
  • Bacterial Infections such as streptococcal infections (strep throat), can also cause sore throat.
  • Environmental Irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, dry air, or chemicals 
  • Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, pet dander, mould, or other allergens 
  • Acid reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) 
  • Dry indoor air
  • Yelling, screaming, or talking for long periods without rest
  • Excessive throat clearing
  • Throat injury
  • HIV infection
  • Tumours


Common symptoms of sore throat may include:

  • Pain or scratchy discomfort in the throat, especially when you swallow
  • Redness in the back of the mouth and tonsils
  • White patches or pus on your tonsils
  • Swollen or tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  • Hoarseness or muffled voice
  • Mild cough
  • Fever (in cases of bacterial infection)
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches


You can help sooth and get rid of your sore throat at home by:

  • Getting plenty of rest 
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty water 
  • Avoiding irritants such as tobacco smoke or air pollution
  • Sucking on ice cubes and eat cool soft foods
  • Gargling with salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) several time a day
  • Using a humidifer

You can also get relief for pain and discomfort with:

If the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, antibiotics may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to treat the infection. 

If you need help with your sore throat, a PillSorted pharmacist can provide you with advice and treatment online, without the need to visit your GP. This is a free service as part of the NHS UK’s Pharmacy First program.

PillSorted provides advice & NHS-funded treatment for sore throats. Book an appointment now if you would like a consultation.


What is Pharmacy First?

Pharmacy First is NHS funded program that allows pharmacists to supply prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals if clinically appropriate, to treat several common health conditions, including sore throat, without the need to visit a GP.

Do I need antibiotics to treat a sore throat?

No. You don’t usually need antibiotics to treat a sore throat. Your PillSorted pharmacist will only prescribe antibiotics if they think you could have a bacterial infection, such as strep throat (streptococcal infection). A sore throat caused by a virus should resolve on its own.

What is the difference between a sore throat and strep throat?

Strep throat is a specific bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, whereas a sore throat can be caused by various factors, including viral infections, and may or may not involve bacterial infection.

What is the best way to gargle with salt water?

  1. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt into an 8oz. glass of warm water.
  2. Put as much of the salt water solution in your mouth without swallowing.
  3. Let it coat the back of your mouth and gargle.
  4. Spit out the solution.
  5. Repeat as many times as comfortable in that sitting and several times throughout day.
NHS Pharmacy First Service

NHS Pharmacy First Service

PillSorted provides advice & NHS-funded treatment for Sore Throat (Pharyngitis).

NHS PillSorted