Why won't my doctor prescribe an antibiotic for my sore throat?

Ken Szwak, PA-C
Emergency Medicine
Your doctor won't prescribe an antibiotic for your sore throat because the majority of the time a sore throat is caused by a virus, and antibiotics won't do anything for a virus. There are hundreds of viruses that cause sore throats. Sometimes allergies can give you a very bad sore throat. Things like bad acid reflux can give people a chronic sore throat. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, and there are lots of things that aren't bacterial in nature that can cause sore throat symptoms.

Over the years, healthcare providers have realized that when they give antibiotics to people who have viral illnesses, not only aren't the antibiotics doing anything, but they cause the bacteria that antibiotics do fight to become resistant over time. There was a period of time when healthcare providers were over-prescribing antibiotics, and they were over-prescribing them in unnecessary situations without even thinking of the possible consequences to it.

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Continue Learning about Viral Throat Infections

Viral Throat Infections

Viral Throat Infections

Aside from strep throat, most sore throats caused by are contagious, viral throat infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics. The most common culprits of a viral throat infection include coxsackievirus, mononucleosis, and ...

the flu. Mononucleosis (mono) is a virus that causes symptoms that can last for weeks or months at a time. Viral throat infections are best treated with rest, liquids and other home remedies. If the sore throat causes you to have trouble breathing or a high fever, or results in spots in the back of your throat, call your doctor.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.