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Pharyngitis / Sore Throat / Tonsillitis

Comments from Expert Advisory Committee

  • The majority of sore throats are viral; most patients do not benefit from antibiotics. Consider a delayed antibiotic strategy and explain soreness will take about 8 days to resolve.
  • Antibiotics make little difference to how long symptoms last or the number of people whose symptoms improve.
  • Withholding antibiotics is unlikely to lead to complications 

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Symptomatic Relief

  • Use paracetamol and/or ibuprofen for pain relief
  • Weak evidence supports the use of a once off oral dose of 10mg dexamethasone in adults with sore throat. This has been shown to reduce throat pain at 48 hours compared to placebo.
  • Patients reports symptom relief from using over-the-counter products such as topical anaesthetics sprays (e.g. benzydamine) and lozenges (e.g. benzocaine)

Treatment

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Patient Information

  • The HSE Health A-Z website provides patient information on many hundreds of conditions and treatments
  • We recommend patients use the website developed by HSE/ICGP/IPU partnership www.undertheweather.ie for tips on how to get better from common infections without using antibiotics, what you can do for yourself or a loved one and when to seek help.

Safe Prescribing (visit the safe prescribing page)

Reviewed February 2021

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