Although a sore throat can indicate a wide range of medical issues, they are generally a result by bacterial and viral infections. Although sore throats caused both bacteria and viruses are contagious, only bacterial infections are helped by antibiotics.


Sore throat is a symptom of many medical disorders.  Infections cause the majority of sore throats and are contagious.  Infections are caused either by viruses, such as the flu, the common cold, mononucleosis, or by bacteria, such as strep, mycoplasma, or hemophilus.  While bacteria respond to antibiotic treatment, viruses do not.

When should I take antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs that kill or impair bacteria.  Penicillin or erythromycin (well-known antibiotics) are prescribed when the physician suspects streptococcal or another bacterial infection that responds to them.  However, a number of bacterial throat infections require other antibiotics instead.  Antibiotics do not cure vital infections, but viruses do lower the patient’s resistance to bacterial infections.  When such a combined infection occurs, antibiotics may be recommended.

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