The following viruses are most likely to cause a sore throat:
Factors that increase your chance of getting viral pharyngitis include:
Symptoms of viral pharyngitis include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most viral sore throats are diagnosed based on the symptoms and an examination of the throat. Sometimes, the throat will be swabbed to make sure that the sore throat isn't due to a strep infection. Strep infections require treatment with antibiotics.
There are no treatments to cure a viral sore throat. Most cases of viral pharyngitis heal naturally within about one week.
Treatments to relieve symptoms include:
Sore throat pain can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
To reduce your chance of getting a viral sore throat:
Viral sore throat is diagnosed when a sore throat is present and strep is considered unlikely. Even in the absence of strep, some types of sore throats need further tests or treatment.
Be sure to seek care if your sore throat is worsening. Call your doctor if you have new or serious symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, weakness, chills, or a sore throat that lasts longer than you or your doctor expect.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/12/2013