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10 tips on treating sore throat

1 There is absolutely no evidence that anyone – not even you or your trainer – can tell bacterial from viral sore throats by clinical examination.

1 There is absolutely no evidence that anyone – not even you or your trainer – can tell bacterial from viral sore throats by clinical examination.

2 Throats swabs cannot discriminate between bacterial infections that are causing symptoms and bacteria that are irrelevantly present.

3 There is no evidence that antibiotics affect the duration of sore throat.

4 Many patients do expect you to treat them, especially if 'it always goes to my chest'.

5 So you need to understand your patient's expectations….

6….but never imply that your time was wasted – the patient will have had a good reason to have taken time to consult you.

7 The vast majority of the population have no idea what the difference between bacteria and viruses might be – so tailor your explanation accordingly.

8 Find out what the practice policy is on prescribing and ensure that you keep to it.

9 Think of subsequent attacks too. Give advice on self-management, as well as sympathy. A leaflet can be a good substitute for a prescription.

10 Don't forget glandular fever as a cause in persistent sore throat.

Professor David Haslam is a PMETB board member and former RCGP chair

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