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Home remedies for a sore throat

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Home remedies for a sore throat

A sore throat is one of the most common symptoms of a cold or other illness. Although only a few cases of sore throat lead to a visit to the doctor or emergency room, having a sore throat can be a miserable experience, making it difficult to breathe, swallow, sleep and even laugh without discomfort or pain.

Fortunately, a sore throat can be treated through a number of different at-home treatments, all of which may offer varying degrees of relief as your body fights the underlying cause of this issue. In many cases, you may also be able to combine multiple non-medicinal home remedies to further alleviate the severity of your sore throat.

Flagler Health+ has put together some simple tips and home remedies to combat your sore throat and support your body as it attempts to heal.

What are the causes of a sore throat?

The most common causes of a sore throat are viral infections, but may also include bacterial infections. This includes illnesses that may affect other parts of the body as well as the throat.

However, this doesn’t always mean that having a sore throat means you’re sick—even if you aren’t feeling well due to your throat discomfort. Other environmental factors or injuries can also cause a sore throat to develop, including:

  • Allergies
  • Dry and/or cold air
  • Strained throat muscles injured from excessive yelling, singing, or even talking
  • Acid reflux
  • Air pollution, including smog, smoke, inhaling cigarettes and other tobacco products

When dealing with a sore throat, it’s important to treat symptomatically as well as the root cause. It’s also important to consider that multiple factors may be involved in causing or exacerbating your sore throat. While illness may be a primary factor, for example, the dry air from a winter cold spell could be causing additional irritation to worsen your discomfort.

Over-the-counter treatment options

While medication and other treatments aren’t always necessary to treat and resolve a sore throat, many people are eager for any form of relief they can get for their throat discomfort. For most sore throats, a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication—such as Tylenol or Advil—may reduce swelling and tenderness in the throat and make it easier to move through your day with less discomfort.

Most children, including infants, can also benefit from a mild over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate their sore throat pain. Check with your child’s pediatrician to learn more about the approved medications and dosage.

If your sore throat is connected to allergies, allergy medication can also improve your sore throat over time. Nasal irrigation and/or steroids may also be effective as postnasal drip secondary to allergic rhinitis can also be a common cause of sore throat in the allergy setting.

Other home remedies for a sore throat

Are you seeking non-medicinal treatment options to alleviate your sore throat? Here are some popular sore throat remedies that may be effective in treating your throat discomfort:

●      Drink hot fluids, cold fluids, or a mixture of the two. Different people experience sore throat relief in different ways. While some people find warm fluids comforting and relaxing, others consider cold fluids to be more refreshing and soothing on an inflamed throat. Try different fluids to see which approach offers you the most comfort.

●      Gargle with a saltwater mix. Mix half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle the saline mixture to enjoy some sore throat relief. The salt can be effective in reducing swelling and eliminating mucus, which can be a prime source of throat irritation. It also has antibacterial properties that help reduce or eliminate harmful bacterial. 

●      Eat a tablespoon of honey. All-natural honey is antibacterial and antimicrobial, and it can offer a nice topical balm to your inflamed throat. Local honey can also be a daily supplement that alleviates seasonal allergies that could cause a sore throat in certain people.

●      Run a humidifier in your home. A simple humidifier can combat air dryness and eliminate throat irritants from your home.

●      Take a hot bath or shower. The heat will loosen mucus in your sinuses and throat, and the humidity in the air will be a great source of comfort.

●      Rest your voice as much as possible. Talking can wear out your throat and exacerbate soreness. 

Severe sore throat: When to see a doctor

Although most cases of a sore throat are minor health concerns and resolve on their own, there are some cases where a sore throat may require medical attention. Most doctors recommend making an appointment if your sore throat is accompanied by any of the following complications:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • The appearance of blood when you cough
  • The development of lumps near your lymph nodes
  • A fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • An inability to speak for more than one week
  • Severe or unbearable throat pain that moves into your ear
  • Asymmetry in the back of the throat
  • White patches/exudates on or around the tonsils or posterior oropharynx

In most cases, a sore throat is simply a common nuisance that we all have to deal with sooner or later. Just make sure your sore throat doesn’t get overlooked as something more serious. And, if you’re ever in doubt, it’s suggested to consult with your health care provider.