Duration of a sore throat


A sore throat (Latin pharyngitis) - colloquially also called strep throat - describes an inflammation of the throat. Both the beginning of the pharynx - i.e. the end of the oral cavity where the tonsils are located - or the sections of the pharynx further back up to the larynx can be affected. It usually manifests itself as a sore throat, which either only occurs when swallowing or is worse when swallowing than at rest. Because a sore throat is often accompanied by a cold, coughing or even speaking is often painful. The pain can also radiate into the ear, and pain is often felt in the ear when swallowing.

Read more in the main topic: Inflammation in the throat

That's how long a sore throat lasts

In principle, one differentiates between acute and chronic pharyngitis. Acute pharyngitis is usually caused by viruses and is therefore also called viral pharyngitis. Typical pathogens are those viruses that also cause a cold: For example, so-called rhino, adeno, parainfluenza or corona viruses. This is another reason why an inflammation of the throat and a cold often occur together and, in addition to inflammation of the throat, there are also rhinitis, headaches and coughs. Rarely - in an estimated 10% of the cases in adults - a so-called superinfection with bacteria occurs due to the weakened immune system. Then one speaks of bacterial pharyngitis. This can often be recognized by purulent (white-yellowish) coatings on the pharynx.

How long an acute throat inflammation lasts depends to a large extent on the pathogen - although no drug can fight the virus as the cause of the disease in viral pharyngitis, it disappears again in 9 out of 10 patients after a week at the latest. In the case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics should be administered - then the symptoms usually disappear after a few days. It is important here that the duration of therapy prescribed by the doctor is adhered to, even if there are no longer any symptoms.

Chronic pharyngitis must have been causing symptoms of pharyngitis for at least three months to be defined as chronic. The most common triggers here are cigarette smoke and dusty air, such as those that occur in certain workplaces. But allergies or problems with nasal breathing, which lead to a constantly blocked nose, can trigger a chronic throat inflammation due to constant breathing through the mouth. How long a chronic pharyngitis will last cannot be estimated across the board, as the healing process usually takes several weeks to years. The progress of the healing must always be checked individually with a doctor through regular examinations.

Read more on this topic at: Chronic sore throat

This can shorten the duration of a sore throat

In the case of an acute sore throat, the symptoms can be relieved by various home remedies. It is important to ensure that you drink enough fluids - ideally with warm drinks such as tea. This can also be prepared with antibacterial or antiviral plants or herbs - for example chamomile or mint. These can also be prepared in higher concentrations as a solution for gargling. Lollipops or lozenges can also help against pain in the throat. Warm or cold compresses can also be used. However, the effect of all these measures is controversial; no study has shown that they reduce the duration of the illness by several days. Nevertheless, short-term symptom relief can be achieved - everyone has to try out for themselves which home remedy works best for whom.

Even if many patients would like a medication for a sore throat: The duration of a sore throat is usually not shortened by the administration of antibiotics. An estimated 10% of throat infections are caused by bacteria. The doctor can usually quickly see whether viruses or bacteria are the cause - if in doubt, a so-called throat swab is taken to clarify the pathogen.

Read more on this topic at: Home remedies for swallowing difficulties

Duration with antibiotics

If you have a bacterial sore throat and the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, the sore throat will often go away within a day or two after taking the antibiotic. Then it is particularly important that the antibiotic is taken for as long as the doctor prescribed it. Otherwise, there may be a relapse with serious complications - for example, myocarditis. In addition, stopping antibiotics too early promotes the development of resistant bacteria.

Duration of the incubation period

The incubation time describes the time between the penetration of the pathogen and the appearance of the disease symptoms. So there is some time between the actual infection and the onset of the sore throat - on average, this is three days. Depending on which pathogen causes the disease, it can be between 24 hours and 5 days. The incubation period is usually shorter in people with a weakened immune system than in those who are immune competent.

Duration until all symptoms are gone

With a sore throat, the time it takes for symptoms to go away completely varies greatly. If it is mild, the sore throat can go away after one to three days. In the case of more severe courses, such as those associated with a cold, it can take several days for all symptoms to go away. Above all, the tiredness and fatigue associated with a sore throat can persist for several days. In principle, the symptoms should improve overall over the course. Symptoms normally last about 7 days. A total of 9 out of 10 people are completely regenerated after a week.

Read more at: Symptoms of a sore throat

Duration of a sick leave

The length of the sick leave essentially depends on two factors:

  • First, the severity of the disease is important - a mild sore throat may only require 1-3 days on sick leave, while a severe, such as bacterial, inflammation may require absence from work for up to a week.
  • In addition, the type of professional activity must be taken into account: Anyone who works physically should definitely wait until all symptoms have disappeared and be on sick leave by then. If you do physical work or exercise during a sore throat, there is always a risk that the disease will spread. On the other hand, those who work in the office, for example, can go back to work earlier.

Until I am no longer contagious

Nobody can say exactly how long a sore throat will be contagious. When all symptoms have disappeared, you can usually assume that you are no longer infected. With a viral disease of the upper respiratory tract, the risk of infection is usually highest before the first symptoms appear. When symptoms occur - for example a sore throat - the so-called viral load has already decreased. Nevertheless, close contact with other people should be avoided for a few more days. Other measures such as regular hand washing and avoiding handshakes in general also help to keep the risk of infection for others low. These measures also help with bacterial infections - they are particularly important here, as the risk of infection is sometimes even higher than with viral infections.