Doctors still doling out antibiotics “prophylactically” for sore throats despite complete ineffectiveness
02/23/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

Don't always listen to your doctor's orders. Even though they've been advised "to stop giving antibiotics to patients with sore throats," the drugs are still being prescribed to patients instead of paracetamol, which is more effective.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the National Health Service's (NHS) watchdog, and Public Health England (PHE), doctors need to let their patients know that antibiotics aren't 100 percent effective.

Patients often consult GPs about sore throats, but these complaints are usually caused by a viral infection that antibiotics can't cure. Despite warnings from NICE and PHE, a whopping 60 percent of patients with sore throats are still prescribed antibiotics.

NICE explains that patients with a sore throat need at least a week to recover and that GPs can prescribe painkillers, e.g. paracetamol, for the discomfort.

Dr. Tessa Lewis, a GP and chairman of the managing common infections guidance committee, said "A sore throat can be very painful, making you feel tired and unwell for about a week. But in most cases antibiotics will not make much difference. Instead, we should drink plenty of fluids and rest. Paracetamol can help to relieve pain and control temperature."

Based on the guidance, only patients infected with streptococcal bacteria will actually benefit from antibiotics. Unlike a sore throat caused by a virus, cases caused by the bacteria may "cause tonsillitis and other problems."

To address the over-prescription for antibiotics, the report listed some tips to help GPs determine these problems. They can keep an eye out for symptoms like "fever or inflamed tonsils." Officials share that a whopping 10 million prescriptions by GPs are unnecessary.


When patients take too many drugs, especially for health concerns that they can't cure, bacteria evolve. This can make them resistant to the treatments.

This is bad news, especially since superbugs are "already breeding at a rapid rate." More germs are becoming untreatable, making previously effective drugs useless. Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, cautions that we might face a "post-antibiotic apocalypse" soon as this problem worsens.

NICE also warns that medicated lozenges, which don't contain any drugs, aren't as effective as other remedies. Strepsils, which is owned by U.K. health giant Reckitt Benckiser, is the leading sore-throat medicine worldwide.

The company declined to comment, but the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medicine, said that "lozenges were an appropriately safe and effective way to provide relief."

Natural remedies for a sore throat

If you're suffering from a sore throat, try some of these natural remedies:

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) -- ACV is acidic and it can kill bacteria in the throat. It can also coat and soothe a sore throat. ACV may also help loosen phlegm that can irritate the throat. Gargle with ACV using a mixture of a teaspoon of ACV with eight ounces (oz.) of water.
  • Garlic -- Garlic has antiseptic properties, and it can help relieve sore throat pain. Crushing garlic releases allicin, a compound that has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties. Chew a raw clove of garlic if you have a sore throat, or suck on a slice of garlic for 15 minutes.
  • Honey -- Add some honey to hot water or tea and lemon to soothe a sore throat. Honey has antibacterial properties and it can ease a sore throat caused by an infection.
  • Licorice -- This herb can soothe a sore throat, and it can "help loosen congestion and reduce inflammation." Gargle with licorice, chew a piece of licorice root, or drink licorice tea.
  • Rest -- Sleep is a crucial part of the recovery process. Get enough sleep so your immune system can fight off viruses and bacteria that can cause a sore throat. Don't forget to rest your voice as well.
  • Stay hydrated -- Drinking lots of water if you have a sore throat may help "ease congestion, thin mucus secretions, and keep the throat moist."

You can read more articles about herbs and other natural cures for a sore throat at

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