Guideline for the management of acute sore throat

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012 Apr:18 Suppl 1:1-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2012.03766.x.


The European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases established the Sore Throat Guideline Group to write an updated guideline to diagnose and treat patients with acute sore throat. In diagnosis, Centor clinical scoring system or rapid antigen test can be helpful in targeting antibiotic use. The Centor scoring system can help to identify those patients who have higher likelihood of group A streptococcal infection. In patients with high likelihood of streptococcal infections (e.g. 3-4 Centor criteria) physicians can consider the use of rapid antigen test (RAT). If RAT is performed, throat culture is not necessary after a negative RAT for the diagnosis of group A streptococci. To treat sore throat, either ibuprofen or paracetamol are recommended for relief of acute sore throat symptoms. Zinc gluconate is not recommended to be used in sore throat. There is inconsistent evidence of herbal treatments and acupuncture as treatments for sore throat. Antibiotics should not be used in patients with less severe presentation of sore throat, e.g. 0-2 Centor criteria to relieve symptoms. Modest benefits of antibiotics, which have been observed in patients with 3-4 Centor criteria, have to be weighed against side effects, the effect of antibiotics on microbiota, increased antibacterial resistance, medicalisation and costs. The prevention of suppurative complications is not a specific indication for antibiotic therapy in sore throat. If antibiotics are indicated, penicillin V, twice or three times daily for 10 days is recommended. At the present, there is no evidence enough that indicates shorter treatment length.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chlamydophila Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydophila Infections / drug therapy
  • Chlamydophila Infections / pathology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / pathogenicity
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / therapeutic use
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / pathogenicity
  • Nasopharynx / pathology
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Penicillin V / therapeutic use
  • Pharyngitis* / diagnosis
  • Pharyngitis* / drug therapy
  • Pharyngitis* / microbiology
  • Pharynx / pathology
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / pathology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / pathogenicity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Penicillin V