COVID Sore Throat: What Do I Need to Know?

Woman wearing a mask and touching her throat.
  • Sore throat is not always a symptom of COVID-19, but when it is, it will appear alongside other symptoms like loss of smell, sneezing, and body aches.

  • Taking any COVID-19 medication and getting enough rest will help you recover, and there are various home remedies to relieve a sore throat caused by COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 sore throat can feel like a sore throat caused by many other conditions, including allergies.

  • If your sore throat persists for more than five days, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists fever, cough, difficulty breathing, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and body aches among the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

Sore throat, although it can be an early sign of COVID-19, is one of the less common symptoms. According to data obtained from Worldometer, only 5% of people with earlier variants of COVID-19 experienced sore throat as a symptom.

However, people with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have reported sore throat as one of the dominant symptoms of the virus.

Is a Sore Throat a Sign of COVID?

At the very beginning of the pandemic, before we knew how to protect ourselves and the slightest cough put us on high alert, a sore throat may have been cause for panic. However, throat pain isn’t always a sign of COVID.

If COVID-19 is the reason for your sore throat, it will probably be an earlier symptom and it will be accompanied by one or more of the following:

Loss of smell or runny nose

How long does COVID sore throat last?

The duration of COVID symptoms will differ from one person to the next, but the CDC states that most people with COVID-19 will start recovering within a few days or weeks after being infected.

Some individuals may develop Long COVID or post-COVID conditions, with symptoms that continue for months after infection, but these symptoms typically include fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive issues.

A sore throat is not a symptom of Long-COVID and will typically pass within three to five days.

What Does a COVID Sore Throat Feel Like?

A sore throat caused by COVID-19 can feel exactly like a sore throat caused by any other condition.

The pain can be mild, moderate, or severe, but if it lasts longer than five days you should contact a health care professional.

It’s important to note that a sore throat caused by allergies will persist for as long as you’re exposed to the allergen. Learning more about your allergies can help you manage your symptoms.

Concerned about COVID-19?

Book an online appointment with a doctor now to get your symptoms assessed.

What are Some Remedies for COVID Sore Throat?

It’s vital to rest and take your FDA-approved COVID-19 treatments as prescribed by your doctor if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

The following COVID-19 sore throat remedies will not cure you, but they can alleviate pain and discomfort:

  • Resting your voice

  • Gargling with salt water

  • Staying hydrated

  • Using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air

  • Not consuming hard or crunchy foods

  • Steering clear of acidic foods and beverages

  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco

  • Enjoying soups, teas, and other warm fluids

  • Using OTC pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen (just make sure your doctor has approved these)

Treating a COVID-19 sore throat is not that different from treating a sore throat caused by other conditions, except that you need to complete your treatment and self-isolate.

What if I have difficulty swallowing?

Odynophagia — commonly known as painful swallowing — is a symptom that’s present with certain variants of COVID-19.

If you have this difficulty, it will be challenging to eat and drink, which will make this symptom worse — drinking water, after all, is vital for soothing a sore throat.

Here are some tips for ensuring you get enough water and nutrients when you’re recovering from COVID-19:

  • Schedule meal times during the periods of the day when you have more energy

  • Sit up properly when you eat

  • Eat and drink in small amounts

  • Try to consume foods that are easy to chew and swallow

  • Don’t try to speak while you’re eating — this could lead to shortness of breath

  • When you eat, focus; limit distractions during meal times

When Should I See a Doctor for a COVID Sore Throat?

If your sore throat does not get better after a few days, it could be a sign that you may not have COVID-19 after all.

A persistent sore throat could be caused by anything from allergies and acid reflux, to bacterial infections and swollen tonsils. Only a doctor can give a definitive diagnosis and treatment.

Head over to LifeMD to make a telehealth appointment.

Jarrod Nero, MSN, APRN, FNP-C

Jarrod, a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner, earned his B.S. in Nursing from William Carey University and an M. S. in Family Health Nursing from the Southern University of Baton Rouge. He lives in New Orleans with his partner and son.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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