Sore throat

BMJ Clin Evid. 2014 Mar 4;2014:1509.


Introduction: About 10% of people present to primary healthcare services with sore throat each year. The causative organisms of sore throat may be bacteria (most commonly Streptococcus) or viruses (typically rhinovirus), although it is difficult to distinguish bacterial from viral infections clinically.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of interventions to reduce symptoms of acute infective sore throat? We searched Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to September 2013 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: We found 6 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antibiotics, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and paracetamol.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Acetaminophen