The 9 Best Sore Throat Medicines of 2020

Treat your pain and inflammation with these top picks

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Mucinex Maximum Strength at Amazon

"Addresses sore throat while relieving other symptoms."

Best Natural: Rhinase Soothing Nasal Gel at Amazon

"This gel is free of steroids, so it won't cause dryness or stinging."

Best Lozenges: Chloraseptic Max Sore Throat Lozenges at Amazon

"Fast-acting and target the sore throat directly to treat any irritation or pain."

Best for Nighttime: Advil PM at Amazon

"Advil PM works to not just address the pain in your throat but also the sleeplessness cycle that comes with feeling sick."

Best Powder: Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat at riteaid.com

"These powder packets are meant to be mixed in hot liquid to form a soothing tea that will feel amazing in your throat."

Best for Kids: Children's Tylenol Chewables at Amazon

"In addition to targeting sore throat, the medication can also relieve other symptoms relating to a cold or the flu, including minor aches and fever."

Best Spray: Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray at Amazon

"Customers say the spray provides them instant relief and they see a significant improvement to their sore throat after a few days of consistent use."

Best Tasting: Manuka Health Honey Lozenges at Amazon

"Buyers rave about the natural honey taste from each lozenge."

Best for Flu: Vicks FluTherapy Severe Cold & Flu at cvs.com

"Customers say the product tastes just like drinking tea and quickly eases their cold and flu symptoms."

A sore throat can make getting through the day hard, considering every time you talk or swallow the pain is heightened. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications often are an easy step to relieve the pain so you can feel better in no time. But selecting the best medication is difficult because often a sore throat is accompanied with other symptoms, such as fever or difficulty swallowing.

Gregory Levitin, an otolaryngologist at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, tells Verywell Health it's important to pay attention to the symptoms when selecting the best treatment for you. 

Monitoring your symptoms for the first 24 hours can guide you on just what might be going on with your body. He recommends contacting a healthcare professional after two to three days if symptoms persist or get worse so a doctor can advise you on the proper treatments.

Sore throat can be a symptom of many conditions, including allergies, the common cold, flu, or the coronavirus. Research suggests anywhere from 5% to 17.4% of people with COVID-19 experience a sore throat as a symptom. Although a sore throat alone is likely not a reason to panic, if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to the coronavirus recently, you may wish to get a COVID-19 test.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Mucinex Maximum Strength

“Mucinex is my favorite medication,” Dr. Levitin says. The doctor recommends Mucinex to patients as the best overall product for sore throats while relieving other symptoms that might accompany the pain. 

As a body expectorant, the medication works to thin out the secretion that often collects in the throat and causes inflammation and pain. Not only does the medication thin out secretions so you get better hydration to your airway, Dr. Levitin says, but it also prevents the collection of secretions, which lead to blockages and infections. 

Dr. Levitin recommends pairing the medication with “sipping” water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated as it fights off the infection or virus that can accompany a sore throat.

Best Natural: Rhinase Soothing Nasal Gel

A nasal gel might not be the first product you turn to when treating a sore throat, but Dr. Levitin stands by the treatment. Hydration is the key to treating a sore throat, he says. The dryness experienced in the throat often stems from the nasal passages, so hydrating those will therefore help alleviate pain and discomfort in the airway. 

Dr. Levitin recommends a saline gel, such as Rhinase Soothing Nasal Gel, as a natural remedy to your sore throat. The best part of Rhinase’s Soothing Gel is that there is no aloe, dyes, or fragrances used in its formula, making it a natural option to moisturize the nasal passages and relieve pain or inflammation in the throat. 

Best Lozenges: Chloraseptic Max Sore Throat Lozenges

Lozenges are fast-acting and target the sore throat directly to treat any irritation or pain. Chloraseptic Max Sore Throat Lozenges work by causing a numbing effect within seconds on the throat, instantly relieving any symptoms. 

The product is easy to take on the go so you can pop in a lozenge whenever you feel pain, irritation, or dryness forming in the throat. Customers say they feel instant relief once they use a lozenge. Not only did the product help with dryness and inflammation, but it comes in two flavors—berry and cherry—to appeal to anyone’s taste buds. 

Best for Nighttime: Advil PM

Sore throats often cause pain and irritation, which can make it hard to fall asleep at night. Dr. Levitin says an anti-inflammatory medication like Advil PM can be more helpful in the nighttime when relieving pain and discomfort. 

Advil PM works to not just address the pain in your throat but also the sleeplessness cycle that comes with feeling sick. The bi-layer medication uses ibuprofen to target the pain while diphenhydramine helps your body get the restorative sleep it needs to heal. For optimal results, Dr. Levitin recommends pairing the anti-inflammatory with extra hydration, like using a saline gel in the nose, so you can target areas of the body that might be causing your symptoms. 

Best Powder: Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat

Theraflu

The flu is never fun. Experiencing body aches all over as you battle a sore throat and other symptoms can be painful and exhausting. So finding a product that tackles multiple symptoms is necessary to get you feeling better quickly. Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat comes with individual packages in a delicious apple cinnamon flavor. The best part? These powder packets are meant to be mixed in hot liquid to form a soothing tea that will feel amazing in your throat. Each packet contains the active ingredients phenylephrine HCl, pheniramine maleate, and acetaminophen. These ingredients will provide pain relief, reduce any fever, and act as a decongestant to clear the nasal passages and airways. 

Best for Kids: Children's Tylenol Chewables

Treating children for symptoms relating to sore throat has changed in recent years after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against the dangers of giving children intense cold and flu medications, Dr. Levitin says. “Little kids are not little adults,” Dr Levitin says. “So the good studies show you should really treat with just analgesics, which is Tylenol for children.” 

Children’s Tylenol Chewables target the pain your child is experiencing from a sore throat and help relieve that discomfort. In addition to targeting sore throat, the medication can also relieve other symptoms relating to a cold or the flu, including minor aches and fever. The chewables also come in kid-friendly bubblegum flavor to make it easy for your child to take.

Best Spray: Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray

When sore throats make it uncomfortable to swallow, a spray like Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray can instantly address pain and irritation. The spray from Chloraseptic includes the ingredient phenol, which works to numb the area and relieve any inflammation. 

For best results, Dr. Levitin recommends using the spray frequently so it continues to numb the area and help the throat heal. “Every time we swallow, it washes away the topical spray,” he says when explaining the need for frequent use. Customers say the spray provides them instant relief and they see a significant improvement to their sore throat after a few days of consistent use. 

Best Tasting: Manuka Health Honey Lozenges

Manuka honey is one natural ingredient Dr. Levitin says can have a “protective effect” on sore throats when treating. The Manuka Health Honey Lozenges combine the natural ingredient with a boost of vitamin C to help calm and assist a dry or irritated throat.

The all natural lozenges are easy to carry around in your bag to use at a moment's notice when a sore throat becomes unbearable. After using the lozenges, customers say they experience instant relief from their symptoms. Buyers also rave about the natural honey taste from each lozenge. 

Best for Flu: Vicks FluTherapy Severe Cold & Flu

Theraflu

Vicks FluTherapy Severe Cold & Flu addresses two key components when dealing with a sore throat and other cold or flu-like symptoms: hydration and pain relief. Hydration is important, Dr. Levitin says, because the body is actively taking water and putting it into its secretions. The Vicks product involves mixing a powder in water to form a tea-like solution. Drinking the liquid will give the body the necessary hydration it needs while providing it with the active ingredient acetaminophen to address pain related to a sore throat, fever, and other aches. 

The product also acts as a decongestant, which Dr. Levitin says works well to relieve sore throat symptoms caused by inflammation in the airway. Customers say the product tastes just like drinking tea and quickly eases their cold and flu symptoms. 

Final Verdict

For an all-around product to treat multiple symptoms, we recommend Mucinex Maximum Strength. The expectorant will aid in addressing the secretions during a cold or the flu that can cause inflammation in the throat. If you need something more soothing on the throat while treating other symptoms, we recommend Vicks FluTherapy Severe Cold & Flu.

What to Look for in a Sore Throat Medicine

Symptoms: Dr. Levitin recommends measuring the symptoms you have alongside your sore throat and then “treat accordingly.” Not every product will properly address your needs without understanding what else is going on in your body. After monitoring your symptoms, look for products that address not just your sore throat but whatever else you’re experiencing. 

Ingredients: The ingredients are key to soothe and provide fast pain relief to your sore throat. Acetaminophen is the optimal pain-relief active ingredient to address the discomfort you’re feeling. Phenylephrine is another active ingredient that works as a nasal decongestant, which will target the post-nasal drip that can cause inflammation in the throat. Guaifenesin, an expectorant, “works to loosen or thin out the secretions,” Dr. Levitin says. 

Form: Everyone is different when it comes to finding the form of medication that works best for them to relieve their symptoms. Products addressing sore throats can come in sprays, powders, liquids, lozenges, and pills. Each of these solutions provides different results depending on the user. If you’re looking for long-lasting relief, medication in a pill or liquid form would probably be better suited for you.

Why Trust Verywell

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family 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.
  1. Lovato A, Rosettini G, de Filippis C. Sore throat in COVID‐19: Comment on “Clinical characteristics of hospitalized patients with SARS‐CoV‐2 infection: A single arm meta‐analysis”. J Med Virol. 2020;92(7):714-715. doi:10.1002/jmv.25815

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids. Updated February 8, 2018.

  3. Kumar M, Chawla R, Goyal M. Topical anesthesia. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol. 2015;31(4):450-456. doi:10.4103/0970-9185.169049