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Learning objectives

  • Recognise the common symptoms of sore throat
  • Understand the different causes of sore throat
  • Feel confident in recommending an effective product to target your customers’ symptoms
  • Be able to provide your customers with additional self-care advice

As we learnt in the video, acute sore throat is a common condition often triggered by viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, although bacterial infection can also cause sore throat.1

Acute sore throat is a self-limiting condition that will usually improve within 1 week, whether caused by viral or bacterial infection.2


Sore throat symptoms may include:3

  • 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

Symptoms are similar for children, but children can also get a temperature and appear less active.

Managing acute sore throat

NICE recommends advising all people with acute sore throat that:1

  • Symptoms may last for around one week
  • They should seek medical help if symptoms worsen rapidly or significantly, or if they become very unwell
  • Adequate fluid intake should be taken during the course of the illness
  • Ibuprofen and paracetamol can be used to reduce a fever and/or relieve pain
  • Medicated lozenges (containing a local anaesthetic, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug [NSAID] or an antiseptic) may provide temporary relief from throat pain
  • Hot drinks should be avoided as these can exacerbate pain.

The role of community pharmacy

Over recent years, the role of community pharmacy has changed with community pharmacists providing an increasing number of services to their local communities.

In May 2023, the government announced proposals for pharmacists in England to be able to supply prescription-only medicines for some common conditions without needing prior assesment from a GP.4 The proposals could be in place by the end of 2023 pending consultation with the industry. Sore throat is one of the conditions included in these proposals;4 pharmacists may be able to supply antibiotics for a bacterial throat infection without having to refer a customer to their GP.

Viral throat infections are much more common than bacterial infections, accounting for 85-95% of adult sore throats.5 Pharmacy has a crucial role to play in these instances, helping customers understand that antibiotics are not appropriate to treat viral infections, and recommending effective pain relief products to help ease the symptoms of sore throat.

Click ‘continue’ to learn more about how to treat sore throat symptoms.

Essential information and information on adverse event reporting is available at the end of the module.

Content developed by Reckitt working with CIG Healthcare Partnership.
© 2023 CIG Healthcare Partnership

RKT-M-34879    November 2023