Chronic Sore Throat: How Long It Lasts and Treatment

A chronic sore throat is defined as throat soreness that lasts for 14 days or more. A sore throat can be caused by several conditions. However, when it is chronic, it is most commonly not caused by an infection.

Working with a healthcare provider to find the underlying cause of chronic throat pain will help determine the right treatment plan. The top causes are chronic tonsillitis, allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although rare, a chronic sore throat can occasionally be a sign of throat cancer.

This article will cover the different causes of chronic throat pain and treatment options. It will also cover the differences between a chronic and acute sore throat and each condition's symptoms.

Man rubbing his throat

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How Long Does a Sore Throat Typically Last?

An average sore throat lasts about five to 10 days. When the pain and soreness last two weeks or longer then it is considered a chronic sore throat.

How long a sore throat lasts will depend greatly on its cause. If the cause is an infection, the pain and soreness will go away when the infection subsides. However, if the sore throat is from a condition or illness that does not go away on its own, the sore throat will linger.

Acute vs. Chronic Sore Throat

Acute and chronic are two medical terms used to describe types of illnesses. Acute means it develops suddenly and doesn't last for a long time. Chronic means that it develops slowly and can last for a long time or indefinitely.

A sore throat can be categorized as either acute or chronic. An acute sore throat is most commonly caused by a viral infection. It can also be caused by a Streptococcus bacterial infection, widely known as strep throat. Acute sore throats usually get better over time with over-the-counter medications, fluids, and rest. If someone has strep throat, then they need antibiotic treatment.

A chronic sore throat is usually caused by a noninfectious source. The causes could be allergies, reflux, or medications. Chronic sore throat treatment should focus on resolving the underlying cause and symptom management.


One of the most common symptoms of a chronic sore throat is odynophagia, the medical term for painful swallowing. Other throat symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Pain
  • A "raw" feeling
  • Scratchy throat
  • Hot throat

Chronic throat pain is known to radiate, causing pain in the ear and the temporomandibular joint.

The underlying cause of a chronic sore throat will influence symptoms. One example would be a chronic sore throat due to allergies, which would also cause a runny nose, cough, fever, and congestion.


A chronic sore throat is not contagious by itself. However, some of the causes of chronic sore throat are contagious, while others are not.

If bacteria or a virus causes a sore throat, then it is contagious. If allergies, GERD, or other noninfectious causes result in a sore throat, then it is not contagious.


Infections tend to be the main cause of acute throat pain. However, medical conditions usually cause chronic throat pain. A 2019 study found that the most common causes of chronic throat pain are:

  • Chronic tonsillitis: an inflammation of the tonsils
  • GERD: acid reflux that gets into the esophagus
  • Submandibular sialadenitis: an inflammation of the submandibular gland
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux: acid reflux that gets into the throat
  • Allergies: an immune system reaction to foreign substances in the body
  • Neuralgia: nerve pain in the jaw area
  • Psychogenic: psychological stress or illness triggering pain

The 2019 study also found that 39% of study participants with chronic throat pain were chronic smokers and 31% were addicted to alcohol. If you are a smoker or drinker and have a sore throat, you should see a healthcare provider because these are risk factors for throat cancer.

One of the more common symptoms of COVID-19 is a sore throat. The soreness should subside after the infection has resolved. If soreness continues or causes any difficulty breathing contact a healthcare provider.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If a sore throat lasts more than five to 10 days contact a healthcare provider. Other reasons to contact a healthcare provider are:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Severe pain
  • Fever
  • Sore throat that goes away and comes back
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Rash


Sore throat treatment should aim to resolve the underlying cause. A healthcare provider may order tests to help determine the cause.

Prescription antibiotics may prove necessary in the event of bacterial infection. Over-the-counter medications like Aleve (naproxen) and Advil (ibuprofen) can help reduce throat pain and swelling.

Home Remedies

Products from home can often manage a sore throat. Some remedies to try include:

  • Drink more fluids
  • Use a humidifier in the bedroom
  • Drink warm tea with honey
  • Gargle salt water (1/4 teaspoon salt to 1/2 cup of water)


A chronic sore throat is throat pain that lasts for two weeks or more. It is generally not caused by an infection but by a medical condition.

Some of the more common conditions that cause chronic throat pain are chronic tonsillitis, GERD, and allergies. Throat cancer can cause chronic sore throat, so any throat pain lasting longer than two weeks should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Treatment should aim to fix the underlying condition and manage throat pain. If a bacterial infection causes throat pain, then antibiotics may prove necessary. Home remedies and over-the-counter medication can also help reduce throat pain and its other symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Throat pain can make it hard to eat, swallow, and talk. Try using over-the-counter pain medication and home remedies to minimize the pain. If pain lasts five to 10 days, contact a healthcare provider. Throat pain that lasts that long is likely not the result of an infection and may need medical attention to go away.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do I have a chronic sore throat but no fever?

    A fever is the body's response to infection. A chronic sore throat without a fever could mean that the sore throat is not the result of an infection. Medical conditions that can cause a chronic sore throat are GERD and allergies.

  • Is chronic sore throat a sign of tonsillitis?

    Yes, chronic sore throat is sometimes a sign of tonsillitis. A virus or bacteria can cause tonsillitis. A healthcare provider can help identify the specific cause to effectively treat tonsillitis.

  • What’s the longest I should wait before seeing a healthcare provider for a sore throat?

    If a sore throat lasts five to 10 days, it's time to see a healthcare provider. They will be able to help identify the cause and determine a proper treatment plan.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Kundu S, Dutta M, Adhikary BK, Ghosh B. Encountering chronic sore throat: how challenging is it for the otolaryngologists? Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019;71(Suppl 1):176-181. doi:10.1007/s12070-017-1191-5

  3. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Sore throats.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sore throat.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of COVID-19.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.