How is throat infection treated?

The most important step in treating throat infection is to practice prevention. However, even with the most conscientious efforts, infections can still occur. Fortunately, many throat infections resolve by themselves over time or are usually curable with timely treatment with antibiotics such as amoxicillin or penicillin and, if needed, fever-reducing agents.

If your doctor suspects infection, you will probably be given a throat culture (swabbing the throat for mucus or fluid sample for laboratory analysis) to identify the cause of your infection. Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for a bacterial infection and is highly effective. It is important to follow your treatment plan precisely and to take all medications as instructed to avoid reinfection or recurrence.

Antibiotics used to treat throat infection

Antibiotics are the mainstay treatment for bacterial throat infections like strep throat and are used primarily to prevent rare but more serious complications like rheumatic fever. Examples include:

  • Penicillin V (Veetids)
  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil)

Analgesics used to treat throat infection

Analgesics can be used to relieve pain and reduce fever or inflammation. Examples include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Topical anesthetics used to treat throat infection
  • Lozenges or gargle agents such as benzocain (Cepacol, Trocaine, Cylex) help reduce pain from throat infections by blocking nerve impulses.

What you can do to improve your throat infection

In addition to carefully following your medication regimen, you can also limit some sore throat symptoms by:

  • Avoiding smoke or chemical irritants during recovery
  • Drinking plenty of fluids, both warm and cold caffeine-free drinks
  • Eating iced pop treats to soothe soreness and heat in the throat
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Humidifying air passages with steam
  • Resting your voice as much as possible
  • Sucking throat lozenges
  • Treating pain and fever as directed

What are the potential complications of throat infection?

The most common complication is an abscess (infected sore) around the tonsils or at the back of the throat. Complications of untreated throat infection can be serious, occurring more frequently in infants, older adults, and individuals whose immunity is already compromised. In rare cases, if treatment is neglected over an extended period of time, you could run the risk of sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection) if the infection enters the bloodstream.

You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of throat infection include:

  • Abscess (collection of pus) around the tonsils or back of the throat
  • Blockage of the airway
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)


  1. Strep throat. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  2. Sore throat. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

What is throat infection?

A throat infection, sometimes called pharyngitis, can be either a bacterial or a viral infection leading to inflammation of the tissues of the throat that causes redness, pain and swelling of the walls or structures of the throat.

... Read more about throat infectionintroduction


What are the symptoms of throat infection?

You may experience throat infection symptoms for several weeks at a time. It is important to remember that if these symptoms subside during treatment of a bacterial throat infection, it does not mean that the infection is gone: you should continue to take your medication as directed. If any of these symptoms become severe, if it becomes difficult to breathe, or if your Read more about throat infectionsymptoms


What causes throat infection?

Throat infections are typically caused by a virus or by bacterial infection (e.g., strep throat). Examples of viral causes of sore throat include the flu (influenza) and infectious mononucleosis. Bacterial and viral throat infections are usually contagious.

What are the risk factors for throat infection?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing throat infecti... Read more about throat infectioncauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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