​Sore Throat


Irritation, pain and itchiness in the throat which may lead to difficulty in swallowing is known as a sore throat. The pain may enhance when swallowing, with throat pain being the primary complaint of people suffering from a sore throat. 

Though a sore throat can affect anyone, the people most at risk are younger children, smokers, people who suffer from allergies, and those with a generally weaker immune system.

A sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection, – such as the cold and the flu. Examples of viral illnesses that can lead to a sore throat include infection of the voice box (laryngitis), measles or chicken pox. Bacterial infections are also a cause of sore throat, such as infection and inflammation of the tonsils or the tissues surrounding the tonsils, inflammation of the uvula (the tissue extending from the soft palate of the throat), or strep throat.

Irritants in the surrounding air can also cause a sore throat. For example, allergens such as mould or dust, pet fur or pollen can cause excess mucus production, which can lead to inflammation. Cigarette smoke, excessive yelling and screaming, and dry air can also irritate the throat and make it scratchy. A sore throat may also be a symptom of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

The most common signs are symptoms associated with sore throat include:

  • Pain in the throat.

  • Itchiness.

  • Hoarseness.

  • Heartburn.

  • Nausea.

  • Cough.

  • Runny nose.

  • Tiredness and mild fatigue.

  • Fever.

  • Dryness in the throat.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Chills.

  • Sneezing.

  • Swollen or red tonsils visible, with white patches or pus on the tonsils.

If your symptoms worsen and do not improve after a week, you must consult an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist. Difficulty breathing and swallowing, especially in children, are signs that must not be ignored and require immediate medical attention. Other symptoms which must be evaluated by a doctor include joint pain, difficulty closing the mouth, recurrent sore throat, high fever, lump in the throat or a lump in the neck. 

You can discuss your symptoms and other concerns and queries related to your illness in complete confidence with your ENT specialist. Make sure you highlight all the complications you have been facing on your visit with the doctor.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

After taking your medical history, including questions about the frequency and characteristics of your symptoms, your doctor will conduct a physical examination. Your throat will be evaluated with the help of a special, lighted instrument to check for inflammation and redness in the throat. The doctor will also feel your neck for any swollen glands and assess your breathing with the help of a stethoscope.

A throat swab may also be conducted, especially if the doctor suspects you have strep throat. This will test a sample from your throat for the presence of any bacteria. Other tests, such as blood tests or allergy tests may also be conducted to diagnose the cause of your sore throat accurately.

Self-care tips, such as gargling with salt water, having warm liquids like chicken soup, using a humidifier at home to keep the surrounding air moist, avoiding cigarette smoke and allergens and resting well will help a sore throat cure itself within a week or ten days. Viral infections subside themselves and will not require any medications.

Symptoms that do not show improvement after a week to ten days may require you to take medicines prescribed by your ENT specialist. Some of the treatment options for you include:

  • Antibiotic medications in case of a bacterial infection being the cause of a sore throat. You must take the antibiotics for the full course prescribed by your doctor, even if symptoms may have improved. Failure to take your antibiotics as prescribed may lead to spread of infection and make your body resistant to antibiotics.

  • Over-the-counter painkillers, to provide relief from throat pain and other pain due to the disorder.

Our team of otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) at The Aga Khan University Hospital is internationally trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders. Make sure you discuss your disorder in detail and follow through with the treatment options prescribed by your ENT specialist to help provide relief from the symptoms of sore throat.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.