Sore Throat When Pregnant: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Home Remedies

An image of the torso of a pregnant woman wearing a dress.

Experiencing a sore throat when pregnant is a common issue, and it can be more uncomfortable than usual since traditional remedies are not considered safe for pregnant women. Due to the absence of safe treatments, pregnant women often endure throat pain and irritation for a more extended period of time than others.

But you do not have to suffer in silence. Although some treatments are not recommended during pregnancy, there are still plenty of other options available.

In this blog post, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of sore throat when pregnant and explore safe treatments and home remedies suitable for pregnant women.



Key Takeaways

  • Sore throat is a common symptom during pregnancy and can be caused by various factors such as allergies, viral or bacterial infections, and acid reflux.
  • Pregnant women often experience throat pain and irritation for a more extended period of time than others because of the absence of safe treatments. However, there are still many other options available.
  • Some home remedies that can help soothe a sore throat during pregnancy include drinking warm liquids, gargling salt water, using a humidifier, and taking over-the-counter medications safe for pregnant women, such as acetaminophen. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication.

Symptoms of a Sore Throat During Pregnancy

Most people are familiar with the sensation of a sore throat. It can manifest as a slight irritation or scratchiness, or it can be severe enough to impede your ability to eat and drink comfortably. The extent of the discomfort experienced is dependent on the underlying cause of the sore throat.

Signs and symptoms that may occur alongside a sore throat vary depending on the underlying cause and can include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Pus on the tonsils
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite

An image of a woman with a headache.

Causes of a Sore Throat When Pregnant

Sore throat is a common health issue that various factors can cause, but it is not necessarily related to pregnancy. However, pregnant women are more susceptible to illnesses, which can be more severe and last longer compared to their non-pregnant state. The reason behind this is that during pregnancy, the body’s immune system is dialed down to keep it from rejecting the developing fetus, making pregnant women more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections.

Therefore, the causes of a sore throat when pregnant are varied and can include the following/

Viral Infections

The primary cause of sore throats or pharyngitis is a viral infection (1), like the common cold or influenza (the flu).

The common cold is a viral respiratory infection that affects a large number of people every year. Adults usually get around two to three colds annually, while kids tend to contract even more. The flu, on the other hand, is similarly viral in nature, but it affects various bodily systems, usually the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

How to Treat Viral Infections

Most viral infections are treated with over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms and bed rest. Medications taken for the common cold, for example, include:

  • Antihistamines for a runny nose
  • Decongestants for congested nose and lungs
  • Expectorants to loosen phlegm, making it easier to cough up
  • Cough suppressants (cough syrup, cough drops, etc.)
  • Medicated throat sprays, such as Chloraseptic, to soothe sore throats
  • Analgesics for pain and fever

An image of a young woman drinking tea due to sore throat when pregnant.

Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection is another common cause of a sore throat, with strep throat being the most prevalent type of bacterial throat infection.

Strep throat, also called streptococcal pharyngitis, is a highly contagious infection caused by streptococcal bacteria. This infection causes inflammation and swelling in the throat’s mucus membrane, resulting in a severe sore throat, fever, and painful swallowing.

There are several types of strep bacteria, but the one that causes strep throat is known as group A. Group B streptococcus is a type of bacteria found in the vaginal and rectal areas. During the last weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, doctors will carry out screening for group B strep because it can be dangerous to a baby during delivery. It’s important to note that strep throat cannot turn into group B strep.

How to Treat Strep Throat

Healthcare providers typically prescribe antibiotics to treat strep throat and other bacterial infections in patients, including pregnant women. Antibiotic use is generally safe for pregnant women, especially penicillin, amoxicillin, and cephalexin.

It is essential to advise your physician of your pregnancy so that they can prescribe the best antibiotic to treat strep throat. As the antibiotic takes effect, your throat pain will gradually subside.

Postnasal Drip

If you are experiencing a buildup of mucus, you may also face postnasal drip, which causes mucus to flow down the back of your throat and irritate the lining. Postnasal drip usually occurs as a secondary symptom of a bacterial or viral infection in the sinuses, and a sore throat is a common occurrence.

An image opf a woman blowing her nose.

Pregnancy Hormones

Fluctuating hormones can lead to various oral symptoms like dry mouth, excessive thirst, and a sore throat.

If you’re experiencing a sore throat due to hormonal changes, medical treatments are limited. However, you can try some home remedies to improve saliva production, keep your mouth moist, and stay hydrated.

Environmental Irritants

Various things in the air can cause discomfort in your throat and nasal passages, such as dust, chemicals, dry air, and smoke. Seasonal allergies to pollen and other substances are also common conditions that cause sore throats.

An image of a woman with seasonal allergies blowing her nose in a field of flowers.

How to treat sore throat due to environmental irritants

If an environmental irritant is the reason behind your sore throat, the best way to treat it is to steer clear of the source of your irritation. If your home tends to be dry, you can try running a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

Taking decongestants or antihistamines can also help reduce the drainage that often leads to a sore throat.

Acid Reflux (GERD)

Acid reflux, or GERD, affects approximately 80% of pregnant women (2), according to studies. Heartburn, which is the primary symptom of acid reflux, can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but it is more prevalent during the second and third trimesters.

There are several reasons why pregnancy can increase the risk of acid reflux. When a woman is pregnant, her body produces more progesterone hormone to help relax smooth muscle tissue throughout the body. During pregnancy, the risk of acid reflux increases due to several reasons.

One of the reasons is the increased production of the hormone progesterone in the woman’s body. This hormone relaxes smooth muscle tissues throughout the body and helps relax the uterus so that it can expand as the fetus grows.

However, progesterone can also relax the sphincter muscle, which connects the esophagus to the stomach. The sphincter muscle prevents food and stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus, but when relaxed by progesterone, it allows acid to travel back up the esophagus.

Moreover, during the later stages of pregnancy, the growing uterus and fetus put more pressure on the stomach, which can cause acid to leak out of the stomach and up the esophagus. This leakage is more likely to occur when the stomach is full after a meal.

Pregnant woman with acid reflux holding her stomach.

How to Treat Acid Reflux

Reducing stomach acid production or neutralizing stomach acid is the primary goal of treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or H2 blockers.

Additionally, you must avoid foods that trigger acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn. These foods include spicy foods, fried foods, chocolate, citrus foods and juices, tomato-based foods, mint, and onions.

Home Remedies to Relieve a Sore Throat When Pregnant

Several home remedies have proven to be effective at soothing a sore throat. Remember to always obtain approval from your healthcare provider before using medicinal or home remedies to treat a sore throat when pregnant.

Popular home remedies include the following:

Warm salt water gargle. If you want to reduce throat inflammation and soothe throat pain, try gargling with warm salt water. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt to an eight-ounce glass of water, stir it well, and then take a comfortable mouthful. Hold the water in your mouth, tilt your head back, and gargle for several seconds. Spit the water out and repeat once or twice a day. This simple remedy can be very effective in improving your throat health.

  • Suck on ice chips. The cold will help soothe throat pain.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Sip warm liquids, such as tea or broth. (Adding lemon to your tea also helps soothe a sore throat.)
  • Use a humidifier when sleeping at night to help moisturize a dry mouth and throat.
  • Take naps during the day as needed.
  • Take a hot shower and breathe in the steam.
  • Avoid foods that can irritate the throat during pregnancy, such as citrus foods or spicy foods
  • Use throat sprays or throat lozenges to ease the pain.

An image of a young woman napping in bed.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if your sore throat persists for more than a few days or if accompanied by a high fever. Difficulty swallowing, skin rash, or severe vomiting are also signs that you should seek medical advice.


If you are pregnant and experiencing a sore throat, there could be several possible causes, such as postnatal drip, acid reflux, viral infections, bacterial infections, and environmental irritants.

Understanding the symptoms and potential treatments can help alleviate discomfort and ensure the health of both mother and baby.

Additionally, there are a variety of safe and effective home remedies that can provide relief without needing medication.

An image of male and female doctors standing in a hallway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do for a sore throat while pregnant?

A warm saltwater gargle is an excellent way to reduce inflammation and soothe a sore throat. It’s easy to prepare, too. Mix a quarter teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of warm water, take a mouthful, and gargle for a few seconds. Spit it out. You can use this technique several times a day.

Are sore throats common in pregnancy?

Hormonal imbalances during pregnancy increase susceptibility to illnesses that produce sore throats, such as the common cold. The lowered immunity during pregnancy also increases susceptibility to bacterial infections, such as strep throat.

Is it normal for a sore throat to get worse while pregnant?

Yes. Pregnancy can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. As a result, you may be more likely to experience a sore throat during pregnancy. While a sore throat may not pose a threat to you or your baby, it can cause considerable discomfort and impair your ability to eat or drink. It can also negatively affect your sleep.

Can I have honey while pregnant?

It is safe to eat honey during pregnancy. However, it is important to note that honey should not be given to babies who are under a year old. Consuming honey during pregnancy will not cause any harm to you or your unborn child. The reason is that adults have a more developed digestive system that can handle the bacteria present in honey, which sometimes causes botulism, a rare illness that can affect babies.

Can you take anything for strep throat while pregnant?

It’s generally safe for pregnant women to take prescribed antibiotics, such as penicillins or cephalosporins, to treat strep throat. However, it’s essential to keep an eye on your fever. If you have a high fever during your first trimester, there’s a risk that your baby may not grow properly. So, if you experience any strep throat symptoms, you must seek medical attention right away to ensure the safety of both you and your unborn child.

What is strep throat vs. sore throat?

It’s important to note that strep throat is not like viral or allergic sore throats. Strep is caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria, also known as Group A Strep. While strep throat is characterized by severe throat pain, it usually does not include cough and cold symptoms, such as a runny nose or congestion.

Will strep throat hurt my baby?

Expectant mothers need not worry about the dangers of strep throat as long as they consult a doctor promptly and receive treatment for symptoms.








SANE MD Chief Medical Director at SANESolution

Dr. Matthew Olesiak, MD, is the Chief Medical Director at SANESolution, a renowned wellness technology company dedicated to providing evidence-based solutions for optimal living. Dr. Olesiak earned his medical degree from the prestigious Jagiellonian University Medical College in Kraków, Poland, where he developed a strong foundation in medicine.