Can Sore Throat Be A Symptom of Allergies?

A sore throat is common in people with allergies. The leading cause of this kind of sore throat is postnasal drip, which is when discharge from your nose runs down the back of your throat. 

When you have allergies, exposure to an allergen causes sinus congestion. This congestion drains into your throat, causing pain, scratching, and tickling.

This article explains how sore throat and allergies are related. It also offers suggestions for treating a sore throat from allergies.

Person with long brown hair squints their eyes and holds their throat with their hand

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What Is Sore Throat?

A sore throat (pharyngitis) is persistent discomfort in your throat that may get worse when you swallow. The discomfort can be a dull pain, scratchiness, or harsh irritation, depending on the cause.

Sore throats are common and happen for a lot of reasons. Many of them, including seasonal and chronic allergies, are not serious and can be managed at home.

However, an allergy-related sore throat can also be an emergency. Seek immediate medical care if your sore throat:

Is Sore Throat a Symptom of Allergies?

A sore throat is commonly triggered by substances that cause an allergic reaction (allergens).

When you're allergic to something, your body’s immune system mistakes it for something dangerous and starts making antibodies against it. The response is why you feel allergy symptoms.

Common allergens that can cause a sore throat from postnatal drop are:

You may also have other symptoms along with a sore throat from allergies that can range from mild to severe, such as:

Is It an Infection or Allergies?

It can be hard to tell if a sore throat is from allergies or a virus like COVID-19 or the cold or flu.

One difference is that allergies do not cause body aches or fever. If you have either of those symptoms with a sore throat, you may have an infection.

Preventing a Sore Throat From Allergies

Treating a sore throat from allergies can involve prevention, at-home treatment, medication, or a combination of these strategies.

According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, avoiding exposure to allergens is the best way to prevent allergy symptoms, including sore throats. Avoiding allergens will also help you need less medication, which is an added benefit.

Ways to avoid allergens that could cause a sore throat include:

  • Staying indoors when the index of the amount of pollen, a fine grain from plants, in the air (pollen count ) is high
  • Keeping your home's windows closed 
  • Using air purifiers to remove harmful particles from the air
  • Using dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air and prevent mold and mildew
  • Changing your clothes and showering after being around an allergen

Medications for a Sore Throat From Allergies

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications that can help manage a sore throat and other allergy symptoms.

Medications are especially effective for treating nasal congestion that contributes to a sore throat from allergies.

  • Antihistamines: Histamine is the chemical your body releases in response to an allergen. Antihistamines block the receptor for histamine and stop allergy symptoms. They are the most used medications for treating nasal allergies. Examples of antihistamines include Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Claritin (loratadine).
  • Decongestants: Congestion happens when mucus in the nasal passages blocks the airways and the blood vessels in the nose get bigger. Decongestants shrink blood vessels (vasoconstriction). These medications are sometimes combined with antihistamines for allergy symptom relief. Examples of decongestants include Afrin (oxymetazoline) and Sudafed (pseudoephedrine).
  • Nasal sprays: Corticosteroids are the most effective treatments for nasal allergies. They reduce inflammation and block allergic responses. Examples include Nasonex (mometasone) and Flonase (fluticasone).

Side Effects of Allergy Medications

All medications carry a risk of side effects, including allergy medications you can get over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription.

For example, some antihistamines cause drowsiness, and decongestants can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.

Always read the package instructions and warnings on products carefully. If you're having side effects after using an allergy medication, stop taking it and call your provider.

Allergy Shots for Sore Throat From Allergies

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) inject allergens into your body in higher doses over time. By getting exposed to the allergen, you become less sensitive to it by the time you complete therapy.

Allergy shots are different from other medications for allergies. Instead of managing symptoms like a sore throat, they address the underlying cause (sensitivity to an allergen).

Healthcare providers give allergy shots in their offices. Allergy shots are a long-term treatment option, lasting three to five years. For the first few months, you get injections one to three times a week. After that, you'll get them less often—around every four to six weeks.

Allergy shots are an option for someone who does not want to take allergy medication or for whom medications haven't helped. It's also appealing to people who want to resolve their allergies rather than treat them.

Natural Remedies for Allergic Sore Throat

Soothing a sore throat from allergies is similar to finding relief when you have a sore throat for other reasons. For example, rest, hydration, and soothing the irritated tissues in your throat with home remedies.

Here are a few ways to treat a sore throat from allergies at home:

When to Call a Healthcare Provider for a Sore Throat From Allergies

Sometimes, what you think is just a sore throat from allergies could be something more serious. If you have the following signs of infection, call your healthcare provider:

Summary

The leading cause of sore throat from allergies is postnasal drip, which is when nasal discharge runs down the back of your throat. Managing a sore throat from allergies uses prevention, at-home treatment, and medications. 

One way to tell if your sore throat is from allergies and not an infection is that allergies do not cause body aches or fever. If you have a sore throat and those symptoms, you probably have an infection that needs treatment.

If you have more severe symptoms like trouble swallowing or breathing, coughing up blood, fever, or enlarged lymph nodes, call your provider.

A Word From Verywell

Managing your allergy symptoms will usually treat a sore throat, too—especially if your treatment effectively clears up your congestion.

Since there are many ways to treat allergies, talk about your options with your provider. They can help you figure out which allergens are problematic for you and come up with strategies to avoid them and prevent symptoms.

While you might be able to tell when a sore throat is from allergies and feel comfortable treating it at home; it's still important to know the warning sides that a sore throat is from a more serious cause.

If you have severe throat pain or pain that does not get better with at-home treatment, call your provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you tell if a sore throat is allergies or strep?

    A sore throat from allergies does not come with the signs and symptoms of an infection, like a fever, that you would have if you had strep throat.

    People with strep also may have white patches of pus at the back of their throat, which you wouldn't have from allergies.

  • Can you have just a sore throat from allergies?

    Postnasal drip is usually the cause of throat pain with allergies. It would be rare to have your only allergy symptom be a sore throat.

    That said, sometimes congestion is easy to overlook—especially if your nose is not running. If that's the case, you might think that a sore throat is your only allergy symptom.

  • How long does a sore throat from allergies last?

    If you get a sore throat from allergies, you'll probably keep having it until you manage your allergy symptoms.

    That said, there are many effective ways to treat allergy symptoms, including a sore throat.

  • What is the best allergy medicine for a sore throat?

    Everyone responds differently to allergy medicine, so it's hard to say which is best. However, since postnasal drip is usually the cause of a sore throat from allergies, treating that condition with antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays usually helps.

  • What drinks help a sore throat from allergies?

    Warm water with honey and tea are great options for soothing a sore throat. In addition, a saltwater gargle can soothe an irritated throat.

10 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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By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.