How long does a sore throat last

How long does a sore throat last?

Sore throats can be very irritating and once you get one you can’t wait to get rid of it. I guess that’s why you are wondering how long a sore throat lasts.

To be able to fully answer this question, you need to understand the cause of the sore throat and what can be done about it.

The length of a sore throat is determined by the cause and the treatment offered. Sore throats, also known as pharyngitis, can be acute and last only a few days or chronic and last until the underlying reason is resolved. 

In this article, you will get to know more about sore throats, what causes them, and how long a sore throat lasts when you get one.  

What is a sore throat?

A sore throat is characterized by a painful, scratchy, or dry sensation in the throat. One of the most prevalent symptoms is throat pain. Infections or environmental factors such as dry air are the most common causes of sore throats. A sore throat might be annoying, but it normally goes away on its own.

Types of sore throats?

Sore throats are classified according to which portion of the throat they affect. Here are the types of sore throats


The inflammation of the pharynx, which is located in the back of the throat, is known as pharyngitis. The most common term for it is “sore throat.” Scratching in the throat and difficulty swallowing are further symptoms of pharyngitis.


It is the inflammation of the tonsils, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat, and one tonsil on each side. It is usually caused by a viral infection but can also be caused by a bacterial infection. 


Overuse, irritation, or infection can cause your voice box or vocal cords to become inflamed, resulting in laryngitis. Acute (short-term) laryngitis can last fewer than three weeks. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), lasting more than three weeks.

Symptoms of sore throat 

The symptoms of a sore throat can be different depending on the cause. Below are symptoms of a sore throat. 

  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Tenderness 
  • Scratchy feeling
  • Pain when you swallow or talk
  • Redness of the tonsils
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Loss of voice or hoarse voice 

Causes of sore throat

The causes of sore throats have a variety of causes. Here are some of the common causes of sore throat

Bacterial infection can cause sore throat

Sore throats can also be caused by bacterial infections. The most prevalent is strep throat, which is caused by group A Streptococcus bacterium and causes an infection of the throat and tonsils.

In children, about 40% of sore throat instances are caused by strep throat. A sore throat can be caused by tonsillitis or sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. [source]

Cold, flu, and viral infections can cause sore throat

Viruses are responsible for 90% of sore throats. Viruses that cause sore throats include; common cold, influenza (flu), measles, mononucleosis, chickenpox, and mumps.

Allergies can cause sore throat

When the immune system reacts to allergens such as pollen, grass, and pet dander, chemicals are released, causing symptoms such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, sneezing, and throat irritation. A buildup of mucus in the nose might cause it to flow down the back of the throat. The condition is known as postnasal drip, and it can irritate the throat.

Dry air can cause sore throat

Dry air can dehydrate the mouth and throat, leaving them feeling dry and itchy. When the heater is on in the winter, the air is most likely dry.


Throat pain can be caused by an injury to the neck, such as a hit or a cut. A piece of food lodged in your throat can aggravate it as well.

The vocal cords and muscles of the throat are strained after repeated use. After yelling, talking loudly, or singing for an extended amount of time, you may have a sore throat. Sore throats are typical among fitness instructors and teachers, who are frequently required to yell.

Smoke, chemicals, and other irritants

The throat is irritated by a variety of chemicals and other compounds in the environment, including; air pollution caused by cigarette and other tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and other pollutants

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

It is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). The acid burns the esophagus and throat, causing symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux


A sore throat can also be caused by a tumor in the throat, voice box, or tongue. A sore throat that is caused by cancer does not go away after a few days. [source]

How long goes a sore throat last?

A sore throat can last for either a few days or linger around for quite a while. How long the sore throat will last depends on what the cause is. The cause of a sore throat could be an acute cause or a chronic cause. 

Acute causes of sore throats only last for a few days whereas the chronic causes of sore throats can last for a long time until the underlying cause has been completely treated.

The majority of sore throats are caused by common viruses and will go away on their own in 3 to 10 days. It has been found that most sore throats that last longer than the usual 3 to 10 days are mostly caused by a bacterial infection or allergies.

How long the sore throat lasts can also be affected by the kind of treatment you use and when you initiate the treatment. Prompt treatment with the right medication or home remedy will usually eradicate the sore throat faster than if nothing is done about it.

How long do sore throats from viral infections last?

Sore throats caused by viral infections usually go away on their own within 10 days or less. They require minimal treatment. Note that for sore throats caused by viral infections, you don’t require antibiotics for treatment. 

How long do sore throats caused by mononucleosis last?

Unlike sore throats caused by other viruses, mononucleosis sore throats can continue for up to a month. The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis, an infectious viral illness. Antibiotics aren’t effective against mononucleosis; however, corticosteroids can help with the swelling, inflammation, and discomfort that mononucleosis causes.

How long do sore throats caused by bacterial infections last?

Sore throats are caused less frequently by bacterial infections than by viruses. Antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin, may be prescribed if they arise. Antibiotics can significantly reduce the length of a sore throat. 

Within one to two days, they may help to lessen pain and inflammation. Bacterial infections and the sore throats they produce can linger anywhere from a week to ten days if medicines are not used.

What are the treatment options for sore throat? 

Most sore throats can be treated at home. Allow your immune system to combat the infection by getting plenty of rest. Here are some tips to relieve sore throat. 

  • Gargle with a mixture of warm water and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Drink warm liquids that feel soothing to the throat, such as hot tea with honey, soup broth, or warm water with lemon. Herbal teas are especially soothing to a sore throat. 
  • Cool your throat by eating a cold treat like a popsicle or ice cream.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy or a lozenge.
  • Turn on a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • Rest your voice until your throat feels better.

The takeaway from this article 

The majority of sore throats are caused by viral and bacterial illnesses, as well as irritants and accidents. Without treatment, most sore throats improve in a few days (3 to 10 days).


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

Author at

Dr. Abel Daartey is a pharmacist by profession, a teacher, and a mentor by nature. He enjoys reading scientific journals and articles and publications in neuroscience and related topics. He aims at churning out content that educates the public and health care providers in meeting the healthcare needs of the populace.

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