Acute pharyngitis treatment available online today

In order to treat your acute pharyngitis, consult with one of our board-certified doctors today to evaluate your symptoms and prescribe medication to treat throat pain, if you qualify. Get a new prescription to treat acute pharyngitis or refill an existing prescription today.*

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Manage pharyngitis anytime, anywhere

Relief for inflammation and sore throat

Multiple viruses and bacterial strains that cause pharyngitis

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor’s discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how you can save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of acute pharyngitis. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms, but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about acute pharyngitis

Pharyngitis, commonly known as a sore throat, is an inflammation of the pharynx. Acute pharyngitis is often caused by a viral and/or bacterial infection, such as the common cold and flu (viral infections) or Streptococcus bacterium infection (strep throat). Viral pharyngitis can also occur with mononucleosis ("mono").

According to the American Osteopathic Association, pharyngitis sore throat is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and sick days.

Acute pharyngitis causes

There are several viruses and bacterial strains that can cause pharyngitis, including:

  • Common cold (often caused by adenovirus infection)

  • Chickenpox

  • Croup, a childhood illness marked by a barking cough

  • Flu

  • Group A Streptococcus (Streptococcal pharyngitis)

  • Herpes simplex infection

  • Measles

  • Mononucleosis

    In many cases, acute pharyngitis is caused by a viral infection that your body will fight off over time, so treatment usually aims to treat acute throat symptoms. When an acute sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection (bacterial pharyngitis), antibiotic therapy is the best course of treatment.

Acute pharyngitis symptoms

Numerous clinical symptoms are associated with pharyngitis.

  • Some of the most common sore throat symptoms include:

    • Reddening of the throat and tonsils

    • Swollen lymph nodes and glands

    • Itching or burning sensation in the throat

    • Blood in phlegm or saliva

    • Pain or difficulty swallowing or talking

    • Throat pain

    • A hoarse, scratchy voice

    • Nausea or appetite loss

    • White or gray patches of tissue in the throat

How to treat acute pharyngitis

In most cases, an acute sore throat will go away without treatment in a week or less. Antibiotic treatment is not effective in cases of pharyngitis caused by a viral infection, and most doctors will only prescribe antibiotics when bacterial pharyngitis lingers.

Most treatments for pharyngitis can be carried out at home, and many over-the-counter products are available for symptomatic treatment. Some remedies to treat pharyngitis include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate sore throat symptoms.

  • Taking over-the-counter pain products, such as ibuprofen and throat lozenges, to manage throat pain.

  • Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke.

  • Gargling daily with warm salt water to reduce throat swelling and discomfort.

  • Warm tea, soups and warm soft foods can reduce irritation.

  • Honey and hard candies can coat and soothe a sore throat.

  • Limit talking or shouting to reduce stress on the tender throat tissues.

  • Taking time to rest until you feel better.

Acute pharyngitis medication

In many cases, acute pharyngitis is treated with symptomatic treatment, which focuses on alleviating uncomfortable symptoms. Depending on the cause of your sore throat, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication or antibiotic therapy to relieve symptoms.

  • Over-the-counter medication

    For symptom relief, consider taking over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Throat lozenges can also help ease a sore throat.

  • Prescription medication

    Prescription medication includes antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment is ineffective against viral pharyngitis, but your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat an acute infection. Before prescribing antibiotics, your doctor may look for specific sore throat symptoms, such as fever, tender lymph nodes, and pus on the tonsils. If your doctor determines that antibiotic treatment is the right choice for you, they may prescribe one of the following medications:

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, treatment with penicillin or amoxicillin is the preferred antibiotic therapies for strep throat. If a person is allergic or intolerant to these medicines, then alternatives such as cephalexin, azithromycin or clindamycin can be considered. It is important to take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from returning or worsening.

How to prevent acute pharyngitis

Pharyngitis is contagious, and there are several ways to reduce your risk of developing a sore throat. To prevent pharyngitis:

  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils with others

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available

  • Avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke

  • Avoid contact with people who have a sore throat or other symptoms of a head cold

When to see a doctor for acute pharyngitis

In most cases, an acute sore throat will improve with at-home treatment. With that said, you should see a doctor for your sore throat if:

  • You are experiencing a persistent sore throat of more than a week that does not go away with at-home treatment

  • You have a fever over 101 °F that lasts for more than two days

  • You have trouble sleeping because your throat is swollen

  • You have trouble swallowing liquids because of your swollen throat

  • A red blistering or raised rash appears on the back of your throat

If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you may have bacterial pharyngitis. In that case, your health care provider may recommend antibiotic therapy.

Acute pharyngitis treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for acute pharyngitis?

    In many cases, the best treatment for an acute sore throat is at-home treatments, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, fluids, and rest. If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, your primary care provider may recommend antibiotic therapy to fight the infection.

  • What is the best medicine for acute pharyngitis?

    The best medicine will depend on the cause of your sore throat.

    If you have a viral infection, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can provide pain relief. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe amoxicillin or penicillin to treat the infection.

  • Do you need antibiotics for acute pharyngitis?

    Antibiotics are rarely the best course of treatment for a sore throat. If you have a viral infection, antibiotic treatment will not work and could cause unwanted side effects. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor may provide an antibiotic prescription to fight the infection.

  • How long does acute pharyngitis last?

    Most cases of acute pharyngitis will go away within a week without treatment. However, at-home treatment options and appropriate antibiotic use (when recommended by your doctor) can help speed up the healing process. 
    In contrast, a chronic sore throat often lasts much longer, often up to several weeks. If your sore throat does not improve with at-home treatment, talk to your doctor to address the underlying problem and determine the best treatment option. 

  • What is the most common cause of acute pharyngitis in adults?

    The most common causes of acute pharyngitis in adult patients are viral infections, such as the common cold, the flu, COVID, and mononucleosis. Because viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, treatment typically focuses on symptom relief.

  • What are home remedies for pharyngitis?

    There are several home remedies to help relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. The following may help to relieve your symptoms:

    • Drinking warm chamomile tea with honey

    • Gargling salt water, licorice root, or diluted apple cider vinegar at least once an hour

    • Taking diluted peppermint oil sprays to relieve inflammation

    • Adding a garlic supplement to your diet

    • Using anesthetic sprays to relieve certain symptoms, such as pain and itching

    You can also use over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to relieve throat pain. Before taking OTC medication, be sure to read the directions on the label and take the suggested amount.

    If you are not sure what you can safely take, ask your doctor. This is especially true if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, as some herbal remedies may not be safe during pregnancy. Ibuprofen products are also not recommended in pregnancy.

3 simple steps to request treatment for acute pharyngitis today

Step 1

Book an acute pharyngitis treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your primary care provider regarding your acute pharyngitis symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer. It is helpful to upload a picture of your throat prior to your appointment.

Step 3

Pick up a prescription for acute pharyngitis treatment, if needed.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy. We can also provide school or work notes if needed.

Related conditions to acute pharyngitis

  • Strep throat

    Strep throat, a type of bacterial infection, is often spread through person-to-person contact. If you have Streptococcal pharyngitis, you might experience a red rash, swollen lymph nodes, low grade fever, nausea and difficulty swallowing.


    A sore throat is a common symptom of tonsillitis, a condition where the tonsils in the throat become inflamed. It can be caused by viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis (mono), or bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Most cases of acute tonsillitis are viral, but chronic sore throat may be related to a bacterial infection.

    Sore throat

    A sore throat is the hallmark symptom of pharyngitis. A cobblestone appearance toward the back of the throat ("cobblestone throat") may also be present.


    If you have the flu, your sore throat symptoms may be accompanied by a fever or chills, headache, nasal discharge, cough, muscle aches, and fatigue.

    Common cold

    The common cold, commonly caused by adenovirus, usually starts with a sore throat. You may also experience a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and fatigue.


    Measles, a childhood viral infection, typically begins with a moderate fever, a persistent cough, inflamed eyes, and a sore throat.

Acute pharyngitis pricing details

How pricing works

To request acute pharyngitis treatment and get a treatment plan for your sore throat, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.


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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.