Sore throats

By Dr Megan Yap - PaediatricianGeneral16 Oct 2017

Sore throats are pretty common.  You know that ache of the start of a sore throat when it begins and you groan as you realise what is coming right?  In MOST cases (like, I think the literature quotes ~70% of the time), sore throats are caused by viruses and antibiotics don’t help.  If there is a painful sore throat present in the ABSENCE of a cough or runny nose, then it is more likely the the cause is going to be bacterial (eg Streptococcus) and then antibiotics might be of use.  You will need to see your GP and be examined to see if this is the case.

In adults, I have what I call the “Gold standard treatment” that my hubby (10.5 years together, 7 years married on the weekend) is so familiar with that he does it without asking me now, and tells his mates all about it too.  2 simple products I use together, but the key product is the first one:

  1.  Betadine sore throat gargle (buy the concentrated version – it is more economical)
  2.  Difflam sore throat spray (there are 2 strengths – both work well)

The Betadine gargle is a iodine based product that is an antiseptic – and is the only product on the market (that I am aware of) that is active against BOTH viruses and bacteria.  Use it early enough in the piece and you will ward off your sore throat/upper respiratory tract infection all together.  The Difflam throat spray has no anti-microbial ingredient  but is really good at easing the pain of a sore throat.  I hate using lozenges as they make your tongue and whole mouth numb – yuk.

For kids, unfortunately neither of these products are appropriate and lozenges are not only bad for teeth but for young kids they are a choking hazard.

Pain relief (analgesia) is arguably the one of the most important parts to managing kids’ sore throats.  Paracetamol (eg Panadol, Dymadon) and/or ibuprofen (eg Nurofen) are both effective at easing the pain of a sore throat, but I feel (anecdotally) the latter is probably marginally better.

A big problem in kids with sore throats is the fact that they don’t want to swallow because it HURTS.  They can get dehydrated, especially if their sore throat occurs in the context of a fever.  It is important to encourage them to drink fluids – small amounts frequently is usually easier.  Cool or slightly warm fluids and soft mushy foods can be easier and less painful to swallow for children.  Oh, and don’t let them share eating utensils, meals or drink bottles!!  Or they’ll all get it!


I hope this is of use to your whole family.  Honestly – this is how I deal with sore throats in OUR family and it works.

Stay well!

xxDr Megs

For more articles from Dr Megan Yap visit her blog – “Dr Megs – Paeds & Feeds” at


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