Sore Throat: Management

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Managing a sore throat

Here we discuss the different approaches for managing a sore throat, including pharmacologic interventions and home remedies.

Steps for managing sore throat

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  • Confirm the sore throat as a symptom of the flu
  • Identify and appropriately refer patients who may require further assessment by a doctor
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  • Increase patient awareness of how to minimise transmission of the flu to other people
  • Advise on the warning signs associated with a sore throat that may require referral to a physician
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Along with appropriate advice, recommend or provide treatments to suit the individual needs of your patient.

Clinician and patient

Educating your patients

As the influenza virus causes significant illness and even morbidity every year,1 patients should be educated on reducing their risk of becoming infected and how to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes:2

  • Using a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Regularly and thoroughly washing hands
  • Avoiding touching the face
  • Keeping up to date with yearly vaccinations
  • Maintain good hydration
  • Rest

It should also be explained that there is no cure for the flu, but bothersome symptoms such as a sore throat can be managed with both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies.3

Patients reporting any other symptom not typical of an influenza infection, should be referred to a doctor.4

Paracetamol is clinically proven to reduce sore throat pain5

  • Pharmacologic therapies

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    Paracetamol effectively relieves a sore throat5

    A double-blind, single-dose, parallel study found patients with tonsillopharyngitis experienced greater relief from the symptoms of a swollen throat and difficulty swallowing when given paracetamol, compared to placebo.5

    Paracetamol is considered the first-line therapy of choice in children and adults to relieve pain associated with the flu.6,7

  • Non-pharmacologic therapies

    Woman breathing vapours

    Home remedies for relief of a sore throat

    In addition to, or as an alternative to, paracetamol, several non-pharmacologic supportive therapies for a sore throat can be considered, including:3

    • Rest, both physical rest for the body and also specifically for the voice
    • Staying hydrated
    • Gargling with salt water
    • Humidifying the air
    • Soothing throat lozenges
Female clincian

Sore throat requiring referral

A sore throat is not exclusive to the flu and may be due to another illness that requires referral for further management by a doctor.

Patients who report:4

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Significant difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • Fever higher than 38°C
  • Frequently recurring sore throats
  • Lump in the neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Swelling in the neck or face
  • Unusual drooling in young children, which may indicate an inability to swallow

Should be referred onwards to an appropriate physician.

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Sore throat management: in summary

Once a patient has been appropriately identified as suffering from a sore throat as a result of an influenza infection, they may be offered paracetamol as first-line therapy in addition to other non-pharmacologic supportive therapies.6,7

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