Sore Throat Remedies: Medications To Take & Natural Options

Updated in March 2024

Some sore throat remedies may be prescribed by a doctor for treatment of a throat ailment. Examples include analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and acetylsalicylic acid. These medications help to reduce the production of inflammatory substances, like prostaglandins, which contribute to throat inflammation and pain. 

Medications, especially anti-inflammatories, should be taken after meals, as they can irritate the stomach. Side effects may particularly be experienced by people with a history of gastritis or a higher gastric sensitivity. 

A sore throat may occur as a result of a cold, flu, or bacterial infection, and may be accompanied by fever, throat redness or throat pus. It is important to consult a doctor if you have these symptoms, so that appropriate treatment can be initiated. Learn more about what causes a sore throat.

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Pharmacy medication

Medications that may be recommended to treat a sore throat include: 

1. Acetaminophen 

Acetaminophen is an analgesic that is used for sore throats. It acts by inhibiting the production of substances in the brain, like prostagandins or cyclooxygenases, that cause pain. This medication also helps to manage fevers. 

Acetaminophen can be purchased over-the-counter, but you should take it as directed by your doctor. It should not be used by people with a history of liver or kidney disease, bone marrow impairment or an acetaminophen allergy. 

If used in very high doses, acetaminophen can severely injury the liver and caused medication-induced hepatitis, a life-threatening condition. 

2. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that is prescribed for the treatment of sore throat. It works by reducing the production of substances that cause inflammation, and also acts as an analgesic to reduce pain. 

This anti-inflammatory can be found in pill form, however it should not be used by people with an allergy to ibuprofen, or by people with a history of gastritis, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, asthma or rhinitis. 

Ibuprofen should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by babies under 6 months. 

3. Acetylsalicylic acid

Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that can be used to treat sore throats. It works by reducing the production of substances that cause inflammation and pain. 

The medication should not be used by pregnant women, children under 12 years of age, or by people with a history of stomach or intestinal problems, like gastritis, colitis, ulcers or bleeding. 

People who regularly use warfarin or aspirin as an anticoagulant should not take aspirin to treat a sore throat. 

4. Naproxen

Naproxen is an anti-inflammatory that also contains analgesic action. It helps to reduce sore throats and can be found in pill form. 

Naproxen is contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 2 and people with a history of cardiac surgery or stomach problems.

5. Nimesulide

Nimesulide is also a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory indicated to relieve sore throat, inflammation or fever. It can be found in the form of a tablets, capsules, drops, and powders. Learn more about the dosing for nimesulide and how to take it.

Nimesulide should not be used by children under 12 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by people who have ulcers or bleeding in the stomach or intestine, blood clotting problems, severe heart, kidney or liver failure, asthma, rhinitis or nasal polyps.

6. Benzydamine hydrochloride

Benzydamine hydrochloride is an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anesthetic in the form of a lozenge or mouth was. It is indicated for a sore mouth or throat to help reduce discomfort.

This medication should not be used by children under 6 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people who are allergic to benzydamine hydrochloride.

7. Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin or amoxicillin + clavulanate are antibiotics that are often prescribed for sore throats caused by bacterial infections. They help to eliminate bacteria and relieving symptoms. Read more about how amoxicillin is taken.

This antibiotic should only be used if prescribed. The doctor may consider other types of antibiotic, such as azithromycin, clarithromycin or cephalexin, for example. The type prescribed depends on the type of bacteria that caused the sore throat and history of person's allergies.

Also recommended: Antibiotics for Sore Throat: 5 Types & When To Take

Sore throat remedies for children 

Medications to treat sore throat in children are generally prescribed by a pediatrician. Ibuprofen is most typically prescribed, with dosing depending on the age and weight of the child. 

Sore throats in children cannot be treated with any anti-inflammatory, as some are contraindicated for use in children. You should consult a pediatrician or pharmacist for advice on the best medication and dose to administer. 

Sore throat during pregnancy  

Anti-inflammatories are not generally recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as it can cause fetal complications or pass along to the baby through breastmilk. In these cases, you should speak to your doctor before taking any anti-inflammatories for a sore throat.

A natural alternative to treat throat pain for breastfeeding or pregnant women is ginger and lemon tea. To make this tea, place 4 cm of lemon peel and 1 cm of ginger root in 2 cups of boiling water. Soak for 3 minutes, then strain, allow to cool and sip the tea throughout the day. You can add 1 teaspoon of honey to the tea, which also helps to moisten the throat and relieve pain and inflammation. 

Read more about how to get rid of a sore throat while pregnant using natural options.

Natural remedies

A great natural remedy for sore throats is Sida cordifolia tea with ginger and honey. This plant contains anti-inflammatory, soothing and a decongestant properties, while ginger works as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The honey helps to lubricate the throat to reduce discomfort.

Also recommended: Get Rid of a Sore Throat Fast: Home Remedies & Medication

To make this tea, place 1 tablespoon of Sida cordifolia roots and 1 cm of ginger root in 1 cup of water. Soak for 2 minutes, then strain and add a teaspoon of honey. Allow to cool and drink 2 cups per day, until the inflammation resolves. Read more about other teas for a sore throat that you can try to soothe discomfort at home. 

Salt water gargles and other throat rinses may also be a great, natural way to relieve pain from a sore throat.