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The causes of acute sore throat include:

  • viral infections adenoviruses, coxsachie, rhinoviruses and parainfluenzae viruses are isolated in 10 -20% of cases (1).
  • bacterial infections (1)
    • 17% had a group A beta-haemolytic streptoccocus (GABHS)
    • 4% had group B,C, and D streptococci
    • 1% had other bacteria such as H.Influenzae or staph. aureus - these percentages should be interpreted with some caution as some of the organisms may be commensals
    • asymptomatic carriage of GABHS is also common, occuring in 6-40% of people (2)
  • tuberculosis
  • candidiasis
  • chemical irritation

NB. immunocompromised patients are more likely to have infections which may present as a sore throat.

Causes of chronic sore throat include:

  • irritation
  • smoking is the most common cause.
  • poor inhaler technique
  • dust
  • chemicals
  • allergy
  • candidiasis


  1. General Practitioner (25/11/1988). A study of sore throat in a group of Oxford Region Practices.
  2. MeReC Bulletin 2006;17(3):12-14.
  3. Ross P W (1971). Beta-haemolytic streptococci in the throat: carrier rates in schoolchildren. Health Bull; 29: 108-12.

Last reviewed 01/2018