Do antibiotics help a sore throat?


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Do antibiotics help a sore throat?


Sore throats are common, particularly in children. Most are viral and antibiotics will not help to treat them, in fact, recurrence and relapse is more common in those who have had early treatment with antibiotics. Viral infections causing sore throats must be left to run their course. A minority of sore throats (Strep throat) are caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes. This infection can produce a local abscess or rarely have more serious consequences such as kidney problems and rheumatic fever. It is not easy to distinguish a streptococcal sore throat from a sore throat caused by a viral infection so, many doctors may prescribe antibiotics to prevent the consequences of strep throat. But the recommendations to doctors are that sore throats should not be treated with antibiotics unless there is good evidence that they are caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. See the SMAC report for more information.


Related Resources
NHS Self-help Guide - Sore Throat
Resources about Throat Disorders
Test for Strep Throat
Antibiotics for sore throat (Cochrane Review)


Date of Posting: 14/01/2003
Date of next Review: 15/01/2005


Related Questions:
So what else can I do to help get rid of my sore throat?


MeSH keywords:
Sore Throat; Pharyngitis; Antibiotics; Streptococcus pyogenes; Tonsillitis


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