A sore throat is a scratchy, dry, and painful condition in the throat. Often, the pain and discomfort worsen when you swallow. Sore throat accounts for at least 13,000,000 hospital visits every year. 

Moreover, most sore throats are either caused by environmental factors such as dry air or by infections. And even though this condition can be unpleasant and discomforting, it will typically go away on its own.

But the good news is that medications can help alleviate the shooting pain from having a sore throat. Below are the best medications for sore throat. 

Pain Relievers

Some pain-relieving medications can help in controlling the throbbing pain caused by a sore throat. Most of them are in the form of a liquid or a pill taken by mouth. The most popular pain-relieving medications are:

  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen

Naproxen and Ibuprofen are well-known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. These OTC medications relieve redness and pain by lowering the swelling and inflammation. 

However, it is still a topic of debate how Acetaminophen works in relieving sore throat pain. Before taking any of these OTC medicines, consider the following points:

  • Do not take NSAIDs if you have had an allergic reaction to any NSAID medications. Also, if you struggle with pain before or after a coronary artery bypass surgery, please avoid these medications.
  • Before using any pain-relieving OTC medications for a sore throat, check with your doctor. In particular, if you have kidney problems, liver problems, and high blood pressure.
  • Ibuprofen can be given to children who are more than six months old for treating mild to moderate sore throat pain. Make sure to get the correct dosage information from your doctor.


This drug can be used to relieve an itchy and scratchy throat. Antihistamines work by preventing histamine release in the body, a chemical that triggers allergic reactions. Here are some OTC oral antihistamines you can take to mitigate sore throat pain:

  • Levocetirizine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Cetirizine
  • Loratadine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Products that consist of Chlorpheniramine

Individuals who have peptic ulcers or glaucoma and adults who are at least 65 years old must consult their doctor first before taking antihistamines.

Numbing Medications

Another option for relieving sore throat is numbing medications, also known as anesthetics. These medications help relieve pain by numbing the throat. What’s more, OTC medications that include numbing agents are generally available as a lozenge or throat spray. 

For example:

  • Vicks VapaCool throat spray
  • Cepacol or Halls
  • Chloraseptic sprays

Moreover, numbing medications usually consist of phenol, menthol, and benzocaine to numb the throat. Remember that while these numbing medications help relieve sore throat pain, they can make other areas go numb, too, like the cheeks, tongue, and mouth.

Another thing, while these medications are effective for a sore throat, FDA issued a warning about OTC medications that have benzocaine. It must not be given to children below two years old because these medications can cause oxygen levels to drop severely.

Common Symptoms of Sore Throat

Depending on the cause, symptoms of a sore throat can vary. But common symptoms and signs include:

  • burning and scratchy feeling
  • dry mouth
  • difficulty swallowing
  • swollen, sore glands in your jaw or neck
  • a muffled or hoarse voice
  • appetite loss
  • fever
  • runny nose
  • nasal congestion

What Causes Sore Throats?

The causes of this condition range from injuries to infections. Below are the most common:

  • Viral Infections. About ninety percent of sore throats are caused by viruses, including the common cold, flu, measles, mumps, and chickenpox. 
  • Bacterial Infections. The most common bacterial infection that can cause sore throats is strep throat. It is an infection of the tonsils and throat due to a bacteria called Streptococcus.
  • Allergies. The body discharges chemicals that cause throat irritation, sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal congestion as it reacts to allergy triggers. 
  • Dry Air. Dry air can leave the throat feeling scratchy and dry because it sucks moisture from the throat and mouth. 
  • Irritants. Certain substances and chemicals in the environment can cause sore throat, including air pollution, cigarette smoke, and cleaning products.
  • Injury. Injuries like a cut or hit to the neck can undoubtedly cause pain in the throat. Also, getting a chunk of food stuck in your throat can make your throat sore. Another thing, repeated use of the muscles in the throat and the vocal cords can irritate your throat.
  • GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a health condition wherein stomach acid goes back up into the esophagus. The acid burns the throat and esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn.

When to See A Doctor?

Sore throats caused by viral infections typically get better on their own after several days. However, some causes may need to be treated immediately. Contact your doctor right away if you experience the following symptoms: 

  • blood in your phlegm or saliva
  • earache 
  • sore joints
  • trouble swallowing
  • severe sore throat that lasts for at least a week
  • stiff neck
  • a high fever
  • difficulty opening your mouth
  • trouble breathing

If you might need prescriptions, look for websites that offer vouchers like BuzzRx to help you lessen your expenses. 

Home Remedies

Often, you can treat sore throats at the comfort of your home. To relieve the pain, do the following:

  • Suck on a piece of throat lozenge or hard candy.
  • Gargle warm water with a teaspoon of salt.
  • Rest your voice and get plenty of rest until your throat feels better.
  • Eat col treats like ice cream or a popsicle to cool your throat. 
  • Drink warm liquids such as soup broth and hot tea.

Final Thoughts

You can keep sore throats at bay by doing your best to stay healthy and practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after sneezing, using the toilet, and before and after eating. Don’t go near people who have colds and sore throats. 

What’s more, don’t smoke or stay away from people who do. Lastly, make sure to eat a perfectly balanced diet rich in lean proteins, fruit and vegetables, good quality fats, and whole grains to boost your immune system.