Sore throats need pain relief, not antibiotics

child being examined for sore throat

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) have told healthcare professionals that they should tell patients that most sore throats do not need antibiotics.

In its newly published guidance, NICE said the evidence it reviewed found that most sore throats were triggered by a viral rather than bacterial infection. However, research suggests antibiotics are still prescribed in 60% of cases.

NICE said healthcare professionals should help people to manage their symptoms with pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

It also said that patients should be told that medicated lozenges containing either a local anaesthetic, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or an antiseptic may only help to reduce pain by a small amount.

Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “The evidence shows antibiotics are not an effective treatment for the majority of sore throats….routine prescribing in all cases isn’t appropriate.”

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, January 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204315