Symptoms & Advice For HCPs

Sore throats are commonly seen in pharmacy settings. In many cases, they are self-limiting conditions and don’t require treatment with antibiotics. Now that sore throat lozenges containing antibiotics are no longer available, as a healthcare practitioner (HCP) it’s important that you’re up to date on the alternatives available so that you can handle queries from patients.

Common sore throat symptoms

Patients may present saying they are experiencing:

 a painful throat, dry, scratchy throat, tenderness when swallowing, swollen neck glands 

They might also say that they have a mild cough or bad breath. While bacterial infections such as streptococcus can cause sore throats (and in these cases antibiotics may need to be prescribed by a doctor), most sore throats are a result of viruses such as the common cold or the flu. In fact, around 90 per cent of sore throats are caused by viruses

Self-care tips

When a viral cause is suspected, patients should be reassured that the symptoms are usually self-limiting and should get better within around seven days.

In accordance with the NICE Clinical Knowledge Summary for acute sore throats, there are a number of self-care tips that you can recommend. For example, patients should make sure they take adequate fluids for the duration of their illness. This should not include hot drinks as they can make sore throat pain worse. Patients can be advised to use ibuprofen or paracetamol as an antipyretic and/or analgesic, and adults can gargle salt water. In addition, medicated lozenges containing a local anaesthetic and antiseptic agent can be used as they may provide temporary pain relief.

Chloralieve lozenges

 Chloralieve lozenges contain the anaesthetic lidocaine to help numb throat pain and they also feature the antiseptic ingredients amylmetacresol and 2,4-dichlorobenzyl alcohol to help fight infection. They do not contain an antibiotic. These pharmacy-only lozenges are suitable for adults and children over 12 years of age and they come in Mint and Honey & Lemon flavours. Simply advise customers to slowly dissolve one lozenge in the centre of their mouth or on their tongue (rather than in their cheeks). They can take one lozenge every two to three hours, making sure they don’t have more than eight over a 24-hour period (maximum dose of four for children). These lozenges can be taken to relieve sore throat symptoms for up to five days.

For more detailed information about our lozenges, visit our product information and ingredients page. You can also visit our training portal for further advice for HCPs.

Referral to a doctor

 Routine follow-up of sore throats is not required. However, pharmacists should advise customers to see a doctor if:

-their symptoms haven’t improved after a week

-they suffer severe or recurrent sore throats

-they have a fever

-their immune system is compromised

-they have difficulty breathing 

-they have problems swallowing

-they have other medical conditions for which they are taking prescribed medicines