Which treatments provide the most relief for pharyngitis pain?
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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, antibiotics, and oral and intramuscular steroids are effective (strength of recommendation [SOR]: A, meta-analysis). Ibuprofen relieves pain more effectively than acetaminophen (SOR: A, meta-analysis). Antibiotics reduce pain in confirmed bacterial infections (SOR: A, multiple randomized controlled trials [RCTs]). Steroids are superior to placebo (SOR: A, meta-analysis). Traditional demulcents, agents that help form a film over mucous membranes, provide less than 30 minutes of pain relief (SOR: B, small RCT); demulcents that contain benzocaine or lidocaine are longer acting (SOR: B, small RCT). The efficacy of herbal remedies can't be determined because of lack of high-quality studies (SOR: A, meta-analysis). Zinc doesn't reduce pharyngitis symptoms (SOR: A, meta-analysis).
Journal of Family Practice, 60(5) 2011: 293-294.