How Does Sore Throat Medication Work

How Does Sore Throat Medication Work?


One of the most miserable aspects of contracting a cold is having it be accompanied by a sore throat. A sore throat can make it difficult to swallow, talk or even breathe without it being a painful experience. Luckily, modern medicine has created numerous medicinal remedies to help relieve and shorten the discomfort that accompanies a sore throat.


A sore throat usually accompanies the common cold or the influenza virus. Sore throats usually develop when mucus drainage from a sinus infection or stuffed up nose runs down the back of the throat instead of out of the nose. In many cases, the sore throat may also be caused by an actual infection inside the throat.

Viral or Bacterial

Most sore throats are caused by a viral infection. This means that using antibiotics will not work to relieve the problem. However, if the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, then an antibiotic will be an effective medicinal remedy. The antibiotic works by killing the bacteria that is causing the infection.


Many sore throats are accompanied by a high fever. This is why many sore throat medications also include fever reducers to help bring the body temperature down. Common ingredients for this cause are paracetamol and ibuprofen.


To help with the pain associated with a sore throat, many sore throat medication use an anesthetic or antiseptic to help numb the pain in the localized area. The anesthetic does not cause the sore throat to go away. It only numbs the pain sensors in the throat to give you some relief.

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Cough Suppressant

Many sore throat medications also include a cough suppressant. When you cough during a sore throat infection, you actually force air over the infection at high speeds. This can cause even greater irritation, as well as potentially damage your already weakened throat. Using a cough suppressant such as Dextromethorphan affects the different signal found in your brain that triggers your body to cough. Once those signals have been shut off, your body can start healing the throat.

Pain Relievers

Many sore throat medicines may also use pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, that work both as a pain reliever as well as a fever reducer.