The Best Sore Throat Medicine for Fast Relief

Woman looking at her phone and holding antibiotic bottles.
  • A sore throat is a feeling of dryness or scratchiness that worsens when you talk or swallow.

  • There are many medicinal options to help treat and relieve common symptoms — like pain, swelling, and inflammation — associated with a sore throat.

  • Depending on the cause of your sore throat, you will likely use over-the-counter (OTC) solutions or be prescribed antibiotics. It’s recommended to speak to a doctor about the best choice for you.

How is a Sore Throat Defined?

People who experience a sore throat often feel a dry or scratchy sensation that becomes painful when they swallow or talk.

Although a sore throat is rarely cause for concern, it can be uncomfortable to live with. In extreme cases, your sore throat pain may even impact your daily life.

That’s why knowing how to treat a sore throat and which solutions work is essential. We’ll outline the best for sore throat relief in the next section.

What is the Best Medicine for a Sore Throat?

The best medicine to help soothe a sore throat will largely depend on the cause of the infection.

Most sore throats are caused by mild illnesses that can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for more severe cases.

Taking a closer look at the different treatment options will help you understand what’s best for you.

OTC solutions

These treatment options are the most common remedy for dealing with sore throats.

Any OTC medicine can be obtained without a prescription, making them easily accessible whenever you need to use them.

It’s important to note that many OTC options are not FDA-approved, which means that their manufacturing process isn’t regulated.

It’s still a good idea to talk to a doctor before you start using any medicine. You can easily speak to any of the licensed doctors at LifeMD for a professional opinion.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen — commonly known as Tylenol® — is a pain relieving medication used to treat a number of mild to moderate conditions.

It can be used to reduce the discomfort and inflammation associated with a sore throat to provide some symptomatic relief.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs work to relieve pain and swelling by lowering the inflammation that’s causing a sore throat. Common NSAIDs are:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®)

  • Naproxen (Aleve®)

Numbing medications

These medications contain a numbing agent — like benzocaine, menthol, or phenol — that provides pain relief for a sore throat.

Popular numbing medications include:

  • Chloraseptic sprays

  • Throat lozenges like Halls® or Cepacol®

  • Vicks VapoCOOL throat sprays

Numbing agents may also numb other areas of the mouth it comes into contact with, like the tongue or cheeks. However, this is completely normal and nothing to worry about.


Demulcents are one of the most common sore throat treatments and are usually for oral use only.

This medicine coats the inflamed area with a soothing substance, which helps reduce pain and redness. Common OTC demulcents include:

  • Throat lozenges

  • Cough drops

  • Throat sprays

  • Sore throat pops

Is a sore throat causing you discomfort?

Don’t wait to feel better. Schedule an online appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner.


Antihistamines are used to prevent an unnecessary chemical response in the body that causes allergic reactions.

These reactions can cause inflammation to develop, which may lead to a sore throat. Popular antihistamines include:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®, Diphenhist®)

  • Fexofenadine (Allegra®)

  • Levocetirizine (Xyzal®)

  • Loratadine (Claritin®)

  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec®)


A sore throat caused by a bacterial infection — like strep throat or rheumatic fever — may require prescription-strength medication like antibiotics.

Popular antibiotics used to treat a bacterial sore throat include:

  • Penicillin

  • Amoxicillin

Your health care provider will recommend the best dosage and course duration for your condition.

It’s important to complete the full antibiotics course to prevent bacteria from becoming drug-resistant and difficult to treat in the future.

When Should I See a Doctor about My Sore Throat?

Although a sore throat isn’t usually anything to worry about, it’s important to know when you should seek medical attention.

If you’re having trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking due to a sore throat, it’s recommended to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Where Can I Learn More about Sore Throats and Other Illnesses?

If you have a sore throat or are concerned about any other symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified physician or nurse practitioner from the comfort of your home.

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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