Best Over The Counter Medicine For Sore Throat

A sore Throat is a dry, achy and cranky feeling in the throat. This issue is very common and can begin with several conditions. Although it may subside with time, there are specific home remedies and over the counter medicine for sore throat that can help reduce the discomfort and relieve throat pain. 

So if you are feeling pain while swallowing or your throat is scratchy, this article is for you, we will be discussing some of the best over the counter medicine for sore throat, plus we will also tell you the causes and some home remedies to alleviate these symtpoms.

Types of Sore Throat

Sore throats can occur because of the following three types;

Pharyngitis: When your pharynx is inflamed, it is called Pharyngitis. This is the second name for sore throat and causes swelling in the throat area. The most common causes of this type of sore throat can be viral, but bacterial infections can also cause it. Whooping cough, adenovirus, measles, chicken pox, etc., are blamed for this sore throat. Bacteria like group A streptococcus can also cause Pharyngitis, but it is less common.

Tonsillitis: Tonsils are the soft tissues in the back of the throat, and when it is inflamed, it is called tonsilitis. This is the most common cause of sore throat, and the symptoms include swollen tonsils, sore throat, and painful swallowing. 

Laryngitis: Laryngitis is the larynx’s swelling and inflammation, also known as the voice box. This can also cause hoarseness, dry cough, and sore throat. 


There are different causes of sore throat;

  • A sore throat can be caused by viruses like the common cold and flu. 
  • Pollen and dust allergies can also cause sore throats.
  • Bacteria like streptococcus can also cause a sore throat, but it is not very common. 
  • Certain medical conditions like DNS (Deviated nasal septum) can cause sore throat by post nasal dripping.

So, how to get rid of a sore throat?

Whatever the cause is, here are some of the home remedies that can help reduce your sore throat and ease its symptoms;

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest for a few days. 
  • Rehydrate your body by drinking a lot of fluid and water. Avoid all activities that dehydrate your body, like caffeine and alcohol.
  • Gargle with salt water can help soothe your sore throat. Simply mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle every hour or two. You can also gargle with mouthwash as it contains antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
  • If your sore throat is caused by allergens, smoke, dust, etc., try to remove all these things from your surrounding. Clean your home daily so that the dust can’t irritate your throat. 
  • Use a humidifier to fight off dry air. Also, a steamy shower can bring moisture back into the air, thus reducing pain and discomfort.
  • Another best home remedy for sore throat is the use of pure honey. This remedy works great for children above one year and adults.  
  • Avoid food that causes acidity and heartburn. 

Honey for sore throat

Best Over The Counter Medicine For Sore Throat

If the reason behind your sore throat is a virus, it will improve on its own without any therapy. However, if bacteria cause it, your doctor most probably prescribes an antibiotic. So regardless of what caused your sore throat, it can be painful and irritating. Luckily, some over-the-counter medications can help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with a sore throat. 

So here are some of the best medicine for sore throat, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Please remember, don’t use prescription medication without your doctor’s recommendation. 

best over the counter medicine for sore throat


There are many different pain relievers available in pharmacies. 

Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

  • You can use Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Aspirin, and Naproxen sodium (Aleve). They work by blocking enzymes Cyclooxygenase, which is responsible for converting arachidonic acid into thromboxanes, prostaglandins, and prostacyclins. Reduction in these enzymes help relieve pain and discomfort associated with the sore throat. 
  • You will need to take 200mg of ibuprofen every 4-6 hours until the symptoms persist. The maximum daily dose is 1200mg daily, and increasing the amount from the recommended will cause side effects. 
  • While you will need to take 1-2 tablets of Aspirin every 4 hours, the maximum daily dose is 4grams. 
  • The daily recommended dose for naproxen sodium 220mg tablet is 1-2 tablets every 8-12 hours. The limit is 660mg per day. 
  • Acetaminophen (Panadol or Tylenol) can also treat pain associated with a sore throat. However, the exact mechanism by which it works is still not fully known. 
  • The daily dose for Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) 500mg is 1-2 tablets every 6 hours. Don’t exceed the amount of 4000mg per day. 

Lozenges & Sprays

  • Lozenges can also reduce the pain and hoarseness in the throat. These lozenges are often formulated using benzocaine, menthol, and phenol to numb the throat and reduce pain and swelling. 
  • Throat sprays are also used to treat sore throat pain. Some examples are Vicks Vapocool and Chloraseptic® Sore Throat Sprays. Most of these sprays uses benzalkonium and dequalinium in their formulation. 


If your sore throat is due to allergies, you can use OTC antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine, cetirizine, levocetirizine, chlorpheniramine, and fexofenadine, among others. They reduce mucus production during an allergy attack.

Before taking any medication, please remember the following points;

  • Don’t use ibuprofen in children aged less than six months. Also, avoid Paracetamol in children below three months of age. Consult your doctor to get the ideal dosage information. 
  • Consult your GP or pharmacist before using these painkillers if you have a liver problem, high blood pressure, or kidney problems. 
  • Also, avoid Aspirin if you are allergic to it or any other medication. 

Read our article about Cold, Flu and Allergy

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