7 Over-the-Counter Medications to Soothe a Sore Throat

May 7th 2016

Consult with your doctor if sore throat symptoms get worse or you have difficulty swallowing. This could be a sign of something more serious, such as tonsillitis or strep throat, which require prescription medication.

Analgesic Pain Relievers

Oral, analgesic pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, help reduce fever in addition to alleviating pain. The fever-reducing capabilities could ease sore throat symptoms if an infection causes your sore throat. Naproxen and aspirin may also reduce pain, but aspirin should not be given to children. Pain relievers reduce inflammation, thereby opening the throat wider.

Sore Throat Sprays

Sort throat sprays may work on contact thanks to substances that temporarily numb the nerves in the throat. Look for sprays with benzocaine, dyclonine or phenol. Follow directions on the label to deliver medicines through pump spray bottles. Parents should administer this type of medicine carefully to children following a doctor's instructions.

Sore Throat Lozenges

Purchase sore throat lozenges that contain cooling ingredients such as menthol or eucalyptus. Otherwise, hard candies and cough drops stimulate saliva production and coat the back of the throat to help ease sore throat symptoms. The cooling effect of sore throat lozenges has the added benefit of reducing pain. Do not give sore throat lozenges to children, as they represent a choking hazard.

Zinc Lozenges

Zinc lozenges have been shown to reduce symptoms in patients that develop colds after a soar throat. National retailers, pharmacy chains and health food stores carry zinc lozenges. Zinc helps stimulate the body's natural immunities against microbial invaders that cause sore throats and colds.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays

Decongestant nasal sprays may prevent postnasal drip that irritates the throat and makes soreness even worse. Use these nasal sprays for three to five days and then discontinue as symptoms may get worse the longer you use them. Check with a doctor before using decongestants if you have high blood pressure or prostate difficulties. Look for active ingredients such as oxymetazoline or phenylephrine.

Cough Syrups

Even if you do not have a cold yet, cough syrups coat your throat and temporarily relieve pain. Parents, as always, should administer cough medicines to children at the advice of a doctor. Look for non-drowsy formulas if you drive, work or operate heavy machinery while you have a sore throat or cold.

Other Decongestants

Some cough syrups also have decongestant properties that alleviate postnasal drip from the nose. Decongestants also come in pill forms. These pills often have pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient, and you may have to show identification at a pharmacy counter to obtain this medicine.


Several over-the-counter medications may help ease the pain, discomfort and difficulty swallowing that occurs with a sore throat. Sore throats often represent the first signs of a cold, so treating related symptoms may make dealing with the viral infection easier. Consider these over-the-counter medications for sore throats to treat symptoms at home.

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