A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow.
A sore throat is the primary symptom of pharyngitis — inflammation of the throat (pharynx). But the terms "sore throat" and "pharyngitis" are often used interchangeably.
The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own with at-home care. Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires additional treatment with antibiotic drugs to prevent complications.
Other less common causes of sore throat may require more complex treatment.