Symptoms of a sore throat might be challenging. Every cough makes you grimace, your saliva slides down your throat like sandpaper, and all you can think about is getting rid of the lump at the back of your throat.
To alleviate the pain, however, you must understand what is causing your sore throat in the first place: dry air, smoking, acid reflux illness, viral infections such as the flu or common cold, and bacterial infections such as strep may all result in a sore throat.
According to Chester Griffiths, MD, an otolaryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, a viral infection often presents with other symptoms along with a sore throat, such as muscular pains and exhaustion. In contrast, Dr. Griffiths notes that with a bacterial infection, the pain is often more concentrated in your throat and tends to be rather severe. In addition to a high temperature, you could also have considerable swallowing discomfort.
According to Jason Abramowitz, MD, an expert in ear, nose, and throat conditions at ENT and Allergy Associates, exposure to smoke, breathing dry air, and experiencing acid reflux have the propensity to make an infection seem “extremely exclusive.” According to him, “often people do not feel as ill on a fundamental level, [and] the pain is also typically not as sharp.”
The good news: According to Brett Comer, MD, a head and neck surgeon at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, sipping hot tea and sucking on cough drops or zinc lozenges will often alleviate the throat infection and inflammation that may be causing your discomfort.
However, some of your preferred home cures may temporarily mask the pain rather than cure it. The next time you’re feeling achy, go for one of these excellent OTC remedies if you genuinely want to get rid of a sore throat.
Use salt water to gargle, but avoid using apple cider vinegar.
Saltwater is an excellent home cure for sore throat since it may reduce swelling, stop infection, and reduce irritation. It could help push irritations or infections deeper down your throat, where your body will be better equipped to handle them. Mia Finkelston, MD, a family doctor in Maryland who also sees patients through LiveHealth Online, suggests mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of hot water and gargling once per hour or two. Although you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should avoid using this method, for the time being, advises Dr. Comer. Whether or how this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is uncertain, he adds. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and almost certainly antifungal properties in a lab study,” he says. Additionally, since vinegar is acidic and should not be used repeatedly, there are significant problems with the long-term usage of vinegar on teeth.
Take more bloodless beverages.
It won’t be enough to swallow those first few times. However, Dr. Finkelston argues that drinking chilly drinks may numb your throat and reduce some of the inflammation causing discomfort. This is similar to how freezing an injured ankle can reduce pain and swelling.
Consume an ice pop.
If you become tired of drinking cold water, a popsicle could be just as helpful in clearing out your throat infection. Just be careful to avoid citrus scents, which might increase your symptoms and induce acid reflux.
Utilize a humidifier to combat dry air.
Your recovery time may be slowed down by dry air irritation. Any pain may be relieved by taking a warm bath or utilizing a humidifier, which lowers moisture back into the air. According to Dr. Abramowitz, the mucous membranes of the nose and throat like damp. Steam offers warmth and water, which helps the vocal cords relax and experience less edema. According to him, the moisture in your nose may also aid in removing mucus and other debris contributing to the issue.
Before using your humidifier, be sure you clean it. According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSP) safety advisory, if a humidifier’s water tank is neglected, microbes and fungus may grow there and then be pumped into the air. While it may not hurt your throat, this might cause flu-like symptoms or aggravate asthma or hypersensitive responses.
Avoid eating anything acidic.
According to Dr. Comer, one frequent cause of a painful throat is acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acids enter the throat. Thus, everything you do to aggravate acid reflux illness may desire to prolong or make a sore throat worse. Dr. Comer advises avoiding drinks, fried foods, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Additionally, avoid eating anything an hour before bed. Eating before you go to bed might cause heartburn and reflux.
Take antacids down.
Taking antacids or other reflux medications might aid with pain relief if the acid reflux condition is the cause of your sore throat, according to Dr. Finkelston. Try an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Mylanta as a first-line treatment.
I am drinking herbal teas.
The trendy spice you should be using in your diet is turmeric. While some of its advantages, such as its capacity to prevent cancer or mental illnesses, still need more investigation, Dr. Finkelston notes that its anti-inflammatory properties are well-established and may help alleviate your sore throat. Pour a few dashes into your tea or gargle with salt water.
If you want a different flavor, you may also test other teas. Dr. Abramowitz states, “many natural teas have a wonderful immunological function and help our frame battle contaminants.” He suggests choosing an echinacea-infused tea since it has been shown to boost your immune system. (See our list of the best teas for soothing a sore throat right here.)
Apply honey to your throat to ease it.
There is a motive Honey is a common ingredient in drinks and medicines used to treat coughs: It coats your throat to minimize inflammation, has antimicrobial properties, and adds much-needed sweetness to your cup. Add a spoonful of hot water or tea and drink continuously until you see an improvement in your symptoms. Remember if you suffer from acid reflux disease: According to Dr. Abramowitz, honey may be acidic, making it less suitable for those with severe acid reflux disease.
Take a painkiller.
According to Dr. Finkelston, ibuprofen may help put a halt to the coughing and throat clearing that prevents your sore throat from getting better. Just be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the packaging and take your ibuprofen with meals.
Make use of a nasal decongestant.
Use an over-the-counter medication decongestant nasal spray or drops to free up airways if you’re breathing through your mouth because your nostril is blocked, such as Afrin or Vicks. Nasal decongestants work well in clearing nasal congestion and drying up mucus, according to Dr. Abramowitz. This helps you feel better and lessens postnasal drip. However, you must limit usage to one day or less.