How Long Does A Sore Throat Typically Last?

Having a sore throat is nobody's idea of fun. Sore throats lead to millions of doctor's visits each year (per Healthline), especially among children and during cooler months. In adults and children below the age of 5, up to 95% of sore throats are caused by viruses; this is also the case for 70% of sore throats among children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 16 (per Canadian Family Physician). Depending on the virus in question (most often a cold or flu), these sore throats tend to resolve within ten days. However, sore throats caused by mononucleosis may last for up to a month (per Medical News Today).

According to Canadian Family Physician, the most common nonviral cause of a sore throat is strep throat, which accounts for 10% of sore throats among adults and children under the age of 5, and 30% of sore throats among children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 16. These sore throats warrant treatment by a doctor, because otherwise they can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever.

How to make your sore throat go away faster

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises seeing a doctor if your throat becomes sore very quickly, if you have a fever, or if you experience pain when swallowing. Other warning signs of strep throat include red and swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and small red spots on the roof of the mouth. It is also important to seek medical care if you develop a rash, dehydration, difficulty breathing, joint pain or swelling, or blood in your saliva. In the case of young children, excessive drooling is also a sign that a doctor's visit is warranted. Any symptom that is severe or alarming should also be reported to your doctor.

If you or your child test positive for strep throat, you may be offered antibiotics. Once a person begins treatment, they should start feeling better within a few days, according to experts at Medical News Today.

If your sore throat is not caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics could be harmful. To ease your sore throat, the CDC advises gargling with salt water, drinking warm beverages, or using a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer. Sucking on ice chips, popsicles, or lozenges could also be helpful, but lozenges should not be offered to children below the age of 2.