A sore throat burns, feels scratchy and may cause pain that makes it hard to talk or swallow. The usual cause is a virus or bacteria, though throat irritation may also be caused by smoking, dry heat, postnasal drip or an allergic reaction. Try these sore throat remedies to feel better fast.
What you can do for a sore throat
• For fast and effective sore-throat relief, nothing beats an old-fashioned saltwater gargle. Salt acts as a mild antiseptic, and also draws water out of mucous membranes in the throat, which helps to clear phlegm. Dissolve a half-teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water, gargle and spit out. Repeat up to four times a day.
• Alternatively, gargle with a baking-soda solution. Dissolve one-half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of warm water.
• Run a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in your bedroom. Adding moisture to the air will help keep the air from drying out and prevent the lining of your throat from becoming too dry. If you don’t have a humidifier, place a bowl of water on your radiator or heating vent each night. It will work as well as a store-bought device.
• Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke is extremely irritating to the lining of the throat. Breathe through your nose, rather than your mouth. It’s a natural way to humidify the air you breathe.
• If you’re plagued with a sore throat that seems to come back time and time again, buy a new toothbrush. Bacteria collect on the bristles, and if you injure your gums as you brush, they can enter your system and re-infect you.
• Bolster your immune system during cold and flu season with vitamins, herbs and good nutrition. The obvious supplement candidates are vitamins C and E, the minerals zinc and magnesium, and immune-boosting herbs such as goldenseal and astragalus. Also cook or supplement with garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms and reishi mushrooms, all of which have immune-boosting properties.
More sore throat remedies
• Honey has long been used as a sore-throat remedy. It has antibacterial properties, which can help speed healing. It also acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissue. This reduces the swelling and discomfort. Add several teaspoons to 1 cup of hot water or herbal tea.
• Hot lemonade with honey can also relieve pain. Combine the juice of half a lemon with hot water.
• Like slippery elm bark, marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) contains throat-coating mucilage. To make the tea, steep 2 teaspoons dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and drink. Drink three to five cups a day to help a sore throat.
• Take vitamin C three times a day. Whether your sore throat is caused by a cold, the flu or strep, this vitamin will help boost your immune system and fight off infection. Reduce the dose if you develop diarrhea.
• Garlic, as another aid to fight off infection. Dried garlic has potent antibacterial and antiseptic properties.