Sore throats can be painful, but they’re extremely common. Most people suffer from a sore throat at least two or three times a year. Most often, they’re a symptom of another illness – usually a virus such as a cold or flu or in some cases, bacterial infections. Both types of sore throats occur during the winter months when the incidence of respiratory disease is highest while strep throat occurs most often in autumn and spring.The good news is that a sore throat is easily treated! Our doctors talk us through the best way of treating the illness that doesn’t include a trip to your GP.

Sore throat? – Here’s what to do

Q. Help! I’ve a sore throat. What’s the best course of action?

A. The trick when a sore throat starts is to commence treatment immediately – even if it wakes you from your sleep! There are several medicines available without prescription on an ‘over the counter’ (OTC) basis which, when started early, can ease symptoms and might just might help avoid a visit to your Doctor.

Q. What OTC medicine should I use?

A. Treat with a TCP gargle – one part TCP solution should be diluted with five parts hot water. Then sip and gargle with it for 10 minutes. Don’t swallow the solution; just spit it out when you’re finished gargling with it. This can be repeated every four to six hours until the sore throat eases.

Q. I’ve tried gargling and my throat still hurts a bit.

A. You can also try either regular Paracetamol (that is 2 x 500mg tablets) every four to six hours or 2 x 200mg tablets of Ibuprofen every eight hours. This helps keep a fever under control and can help ease the pain from the sore throat. Also try some Strepsils Plus Throat spray which is very useful to numb a sore throat when you want to eat or take fluids.

Q. Any other tips?

A. Fever usually accompanies a sore throat, therefore you lose more fluids and so become relatively dehydrated. Ensure you increase your fluid intake to compensate for this (drinking fluids also helps to ease associated muscle pains and headaches).

These measures need to be continued regularly for three to four days. If symptoms get worse, particularly if you cannot swallow your saliva, then you must seek medical attention with your local Doctor.