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Management of sore throat and indications for tonsillectomy


The management of sore throat is a significant burden on health service resources. Although the condition is often relatively minor and self-limiting, some patients experience unacceptable morbidity and loss of education or earnings due to recurrent sore throat.

Remit and target users

The guideline provides recommendations on: presentation and diagnosis in primary care; pain relief for adults and children; antibiotics for acute and recurrent sore throat; surgery for recurrent tonsillitis; referral criteria for tonsillectomy; postoperative pain and prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting; and provision of information. Specific surgical techniques, anaesthetic techniques and organisation of care are not covered.

This guideline will be of particular interest to general practitioners, nurses, paediatricians, pharmacists, otolaryngologists, anaesthetists, public health specialists, patients with recurrent sore throat and their carers.

How this guideline was developed

This guideline was developed using a standard methodology based on a systematic review of the evidence. Further details can be found in SIGN 50: A Guideline Developer’s Handbook .

Keeping up to date

This guideline was issued in 2010 and will be considered for review in three years. The review history, and any updates to the guideline in the interim period, will be noted in the review report.

If you are aware of any new evidence that would update this guideline please complete a change request form and return to:

Current 3-7 years

Some recommendations may be out of  date, declaration of interests governance may not be in line with current policy.

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