Skip to main content

Sore throat

Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better within 7 to 10 days. Most sore throats are caused by minor illnesses such as colds or flu and can be treated at home.

If your sore throat is severe or you have a persistent sore throat that hasn't started to improve after a week, visit your local Pharmacy for the sore throat test and treat service.

This service is available to help determine whether a sore throat is being caused by a viral or bacterial infection so you can get expert advice and treatment quickly without having to visit your GP.

You will have a consultation with a Pharmacist, who will use a set of structured questions and possibly a swab test to determine the cause of your sore throat. If your sore throat is determined to be a viral infection which antibiotics will not treat, the Pharmacist can advise on steps to take to recover. The Pharmacist can also provide antibiotics if the test reveals a bacterial infection.

A list of Pharmacies offering the sore throat test and treat service can be found below:

General advice for managing sore throats (from NHS 111 Wales)

Looking after yourself at home

  • Take ibuprofen or paracetamol – paracetamol is better for children and for people who can't take ibuprofen (note that children under 16 should never take aspirin)
  • Drink plenty of cool or warm fluids, and avoid very hot drinks
  • Eat cool, soft foods
  • Avoid smoking and smoky places
  • Gargle with a homemade mouthwash of warm, salty water
  • Try sucking lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice lollies – but don't give young children anything small and hard to suck because of the risk of choking

Contact your GP if:

  • You experience severe sore throats frequently
  • You have a weak immune system – for example, you have HIV, are having chemotherapy, or are taking medication that suppresses your immune system

Visit A&E if:

  • Your sore throat is very severe or getting worse quickly
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You're making a high-pitched sound as you breathe (called stridor)
  • You have severe difficulty swallowing
  • You start drooling