Sore throat refers to pain or irritation in the throat that occurs with or without swelling. In most cases, sore throat is a sign of infections, such as common cold or flu. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that lower pain and swelling. This study aims to investigate the effects of corticosteroids as an adjunct treatment for sore throat.

This systematic review and meta-analysis included a total of 1,426 individuals from 10 eligible randomized controlled trials that included the addition of corticosteroids to standard care for sore throat. The primary outcome of the study was a relief from pain, along with adverse side effects.

The findings suggested that patients who received single low dose corticosteroids (oral dexamethasone) exhibited a two-fold likelihood of experiencing pain relief after 24 hours and a 1.5-fold likelihood of experiencing no pain after 48 hours. The mean duration between the intake of corticosteroids and the onset of pain relief was 4.8 hours earlier, and 11.1 hours earlier, between the intake of corticosteroids complete resolution of pain. Of the ten trials included, six reported no adverse outcomes, and 3 reported few adverse outcomes.

The research concluded that the use of single low-dose corticosteroids was associated with an improved onset of pain relief and complete pain resolution.