Sore Throat Symptoms & Causes

A sore throat can make swallowing, eating and drinking painful, and it can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Usually, it is the result of an infection or inflammation in the upper airways. Keep reading to find out more about the most common sore throat symptoms and possible causes. We also offer information on how Chloralieve lozenges may be able to help to relieve your symptoms.

Sore throat symptoms

Signs of a sore throat can differ, but they often include one or more of the following:

tenderness when swallowing,  a dry, scratchy sensation in the throat, swollen neck glands, redness at the back of the mouth, a mild cough and bad breath.

The symptoms of a sore throat can range from mild to severe depending on a range of factors, including the cause of the problem.

Bacterial infections

Occasionally, sore throats are caused by bacterial infections. The most common of these is strep throat, which is an infection of the tonsils and throat caused by Streptococcus bacteria. Sore throats can also be a symptom of sexually transmitted bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.


If your immune system reacts to allergens such as pollen or pet dander, this response causes your body to release chemicals that can cause symptoms including throat irritation, sneezing and nasal congestion. Also, excess mucus in the nose can drip down the back of your throat, which may potentially cause irritation in this area.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

Often referred to as GORD, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is a condition that causes stomach acid to leak up into the food pipe (oesophagus). As well as potentially causing a sore throat, it can result in heartburn and a bad taste at the back of the mouth.

When to seek expert medical help

In many cases, sore throats are nothing to worry about and will get better by themselves within around a week.

However, in a small proportion of cases, a painful throat may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. If a sore throat persists for longer than seven days, you have a fever or your immune system is weakened (for example, because you are on chemotherapy or have diabetes), it’s recommended to see a doctor. You should also visit a doctor if you are concerned about your sore throat for any other reason.

Environmental irritants

Causes of a sore throat can also include irritants and pollutants in the environment. For example, if you inhale cigarette smoke, whether you smoke or you breathe in secondary smoke from other people, this could irritate your throat. Ambient air pollution can also be a cause. For example, breathing in fine dust or nitrogen oxides may result in throat discomfort. A variety of other environmental irritants can lead to pain in the throat as well, including certain cleaning products and other chemicals. Dry air is also a risk factor because it sucks moisture from the mouth and throat and can leave throats feeling irritated. This is most likely to happen in the winter months when the heating is on a lot.

How Chloralieve can help

Suitable for adults and children over the age of 12, Chloralieve lozenges offer a convenient way to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. These pharmacy-only sore throat lozenges have a dual-action formula. They contain the local anaesthetic lidocaine, which numbs pain in the throat, and they feature the antiseptic ingredients amylmetacresol and 2,4-dichlorobenzyl alcohol, which help to fight infection. To use, simply suck one lozenge every two to three hours, allowing it to dissolve slowly in the centre of your mouth or on your tongue. Adults can take up to eight lozenges over a 24-hour period, while children can take up to four. It is not recommended to use these lozenges for more than five days in a row.

Please note that the information contained in these pages is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult your physician or pharmacist for personalised medical advice.