A sore throat that feels irritated or scratchy is often an early sign that you are coming down with a winter cold. You may feel mild discomfort or a burning pain and it may feel worse when you swallow.
It is a good idea to boost your immune system when you notice a sore throat to try to prevent it from developing into a more serious illness.
Possible complications from a sore throat include ear and sinus infections. Another complication is an abscess (buildup of pus) near your tonsils.
What causes a sore throat?
Most sore throats are caused by colds or the flu. A virus can cause a sore throat. These include tonsillitis, strep throat and mononucleosis (glandular fever).
Other causes include smoking, mouth breathing at night while you sleep, pollution and allergies to pets, pollens and moulds.
When to see your doctor
You must see your doctor if you or a family member experiences any of the following:
a sore throat that lasts more than a few days
- difficulty swallowing
- your tonsils are enlarged or coated
- a high temperature (above 39°C)
- swelling in your neck
- earache or joint pain.
If your child is Māori or Pacific, aged 4 to 19 years, lives in certain parts of the North Island and has a sore throat, please get it checked straight away. They are at risk of a serious but preventable illness called rheumatic fever.
Sore throat treatment
Most sore throats are caused by a cold or flu-type virus go away in a week to 10 days. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses.
If your sore throat is caused by bacteria, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. You will feel better in a few days. It is important to take all of your antibiotics. This reduces the risk that your sore throat will return.
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