Over the counter treatment

There are several types of over the counter medicines which are effective at treating a sore throat. These include painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, throat lozenges and throat sprays.

These can all be purchased at your local pharmacy or online.

Cold and flu products

If you have a sore throat as a result of a head cold then products such as ‘Lempsip’can help. This is a well known cold and flu remedy which is available as a sachet which is added to hot water or as a tablet to be taken orally. This range also includes throat sprays, cough medicine and throat sweets.


Painkillers are useful at reducing a high temperature as well as easing the symptoms of a cold or sore throat. They are part of a group of medicines known as ‘analgesics’ which means that they help to relieve pain.

The two most popular types of painkiller are ibuprofen and paracetamol. Both of these can be purchased at a high street pharmacy or online.

Aspirin is another option but this must NOT be given to children under 16.

Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen if you have liver or kidney problems or have (or have experienced) a peptic ulcer as these can aggravate these. Take paracetamol instead.

Stick to the recommended dosage especially with paracetamol as an accidental overdose can result in serious liver damage.

Throat sweets

These are a popular form of treatment for a sore throat and are very easy to take. Two well known brands of throat sweets are ‘Strepsils’ and ‘Lockets’.

These are medicated sweets that contain antiseptics and other ingredients such as menthol which help to ease a sore throat. Some brands of throat sweets act as a breath freshener as well.

These sweets are usually available as a lozenge (hard boiled sweet) or a chewy pastille.

Throat sprays

Throat sprays are another effective treatment for a sore throat. They contain a chemical called ‘benzocaine’ which is a type of local anaesthetic that works by blocking pain receptors at the end of nerves.

A throat spray is easy to use: you turn the nozzle towards you, tip back your head, open your mouth and press the nozzle to squirt down the back of your throat. This has the effect of numbing the throat and easing any pain.

Turn the nozzle back the other way to close it.

Follow the instructions carefully. Do NOT exceed the dosage but if you accidentally do so then seek medical advice. If you are taking any medication such as beta blockers or an anti-epileptic drug then speak to your GP or pharmacist first before using a throat spray.

Also ask for advice from your GP or pharmacist about using a throat spray if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do this before you consider buying a spray.

Side effects are rare but if you experience an allergic reaction such as a rash or itching around the mouth or difficulty breathing then see your GP.

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