Severe and Mild Sore Throat Causes and Treatment

A mild sore throat is pain, itchiness or irritation in your throat. You may have ear pain and find it hurts to swallow. Many sore throats are caused by viral infections.


Most sore throats are caused by a viral infection, including the common cold or flu. Other viruses include mononucleosis, measles or chicken pox. Bacterial infections like strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes), diphtheria or whooping cough can cause a sore throat. Allergens like mold, pet dander, pollen or cigarette smoke can also cause a sore throat.


Symptoms of a sore, irritated throat vary depending on the severity and can include:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Dry throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling in your jaw or neck
  • Coughing
  • Tonsils may be swollen and/or may have white spots or pus on them

Other non-throat related symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Stomach pains


Some sore throats can be treated at home, depending on the cause. Home remedies for sore throat pain include:

  • Gargling with salt water
  • Drinking warm fluids like soup, tea, and water
  • Avoiding allergens like smoke or pet dander
  • Taking throat lozenges
  • Reducing inflammation with ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Should I go to Indigo?

If you’ve had a sore throat for several days that isn’t getting better, with or without other symptoms of minor illness, MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care can diagnose your symptoms and recommend treatment. All of our clinics offer rapid strep testing, giving you results within minutes. 

If the sore throat is bacterial in nature, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection. You will be required to take the medication as prescribed. Not taking antibiotics for the length of time prescribed may result in a reoccurring infection.

If the sore throat is from a virus, your doctor may want the virus to run its course, or they may prescribe antiviral drugs. During that time, you may also be prescribed medications like pain relievers and decongestants to ease your symptoms.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek treatment from your nearest emergency department instead:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A fever over 101°F
  • Joint pain
  • A rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloody mucus
  • A lump in the throat

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