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Am Fam Physician. 2022;105(6):online

Author disclosure: No relevant financial relationships.

Details for This Review

Study Population: Children and adults seeking medical care for symptoms of sore throat1

Efficacy End Points: Sore throat at day 3 and one week, fever at day 3, headache at day 3, rheumatic fever within two months, glomerulonephritis within one month, peritonsillar abscess (quinsy) within two months, acute otitis media within 14 days, and acute sinusitis within 14 days

Harm End Points: Because of poor or inconsistent reporting, no harm end points were quantified for this review
An additional 1 in 6 patients will have resolution of sore throat by day 3No harm end points were reported or quantified
An additional 1 in 18 patients will have resolution of sore throat by 1 week

Narrative: The two most common causes of sore throat are viruses and bacteria, with viruses causing up to 45% of cases.2,3 For viral infections, supportive care is the best treatment.3 Some bacterial infections of the throat warrant antibiotic therapy (e.g., group A streptococci, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Fusobacterium necrophorum, or Corynebacterium diphtheriae infection) to reduce symptoms and prevent complications.2,3 This Cochrane review provides an updated look at the effect of antibiotics in patients presenting with a sore throat.1 

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This series is coordinated by Christopher W. Bunt, MD, AFP assistant medical editor, and the NNT Group.

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