It’s a feeling that often triggers dread: that scratchy sensation that starts in the back of your throat. You try to ignore it, hoping it will just go away – only to find it turns into a full-blown sore throat within a day or two. You end up reaching for the cold medicine, cough syrup, or throat lozenges, desperate for relief.
Now, if you need relief fast, there are plenty of do-it-yourself sore throat remedies that can help alleviate symptoms fast – perfect for those busy days when you can’t get in to see your doctor.
So what causes sore throats?
A sore throat can occur from bacterial and viral infections, or even from allergic reactions. It can also simply be a sign of strained vocal chords. Symptoms include pain or a scratchy feeling, difficulty swallowing, sore, swollen glands in your neck, swollen, red tonsils, hoarseness and white patches on your tonsils.1
A sore throat may also be accompanied by other symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose, body aches, and nausea. 2 If a sore throat worsens or persists for more than 5 days, you should seek professional medical attention.
Though antibiotics and anti-inflammatory OTC medications are usually the go-to’s for easing a sore throat, alternative methodologies have also proven effective – as either standalone treatments, or to expedite healing together with medication.
Here are some DIY sore throat remedies, some you’re probably familiar with and some are really unorthodox:
1. Gargle With Salt Water
Even something as simple as gargling with plain water has been shown in clinical trials to prevent upper respiratory tract infections. 3 Adding salt to the mix can also help loosen mucus. 4 Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in warm water and use it to gargle several times a day to ease sore throat discomfort.
2. Drink Lots of Fluids
Staying hydrated keeps your mucous membranes moist, which helps your body fight off bacteria and other irritants. 5 Water is always a good choice for hydration, but you can also drink watered-down juice or tea, or turn to heartier fare, like soup or bone broth.
3. Have Some Tea
Green and black tea boast antioxidants that could help fortify your immune system. 6 A stronger immune system will be better equipped to combat whatever is responsible for your sore throat. Warm tea will also help to ease sore throat pain. Drink a couple of cups a day as needed.
4. Add a Teaspoon of Honey
Honey has well-documented antibacterial properties. 7 If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, honey can help fight if off. Its smooth, syrupy texture can also help soothe pain and make it easier to swallow. Take a teaspoon of honey once or twice a day, or mix a teaspoon into your cup of tea.
5. Sip On Some Chicken Soup
It may be comforting, but chicken soup’s benefits go far beyond comfort – in fact, studies have proven chicken soup’s medicinal benefits.8 The sodium in chicken soup may also counter the swelling of tonsils and glands in the throat, much like salt water in a gargle. 9 As an added bonus, it simply feels good against painful, swollen tonsils.
6. Get Some Rest
Sure, it sounds simple enough (actually, almost too simple), but rest is essential in giving your body time to recover. It’s no surprise, then, that doctors often recommend rest when someone is dealing with an ailment. 10 Stay home, keep yourself warm, and get all the ZZZ’s you need as your immune system goes to work.
7. Rinse It Out
A 2008 study found that children who performed nasal rinses with saltwater six times a day had improved cold and flu symptoms. 11 In some cases, however, improper use of the pots used in sinus rinsing may actually increase infection. 12 Refer to FDA guidelines and always use distilled, sterile water, or water that has been boiled to make sure to minimize risk of infection. Never use tap water.
8. Humidify Your Environment
When mucus is dry, it becomes harder to remove, keeping you congested. A humidifier will keep air moist and help loosen the mucus to relieve congestion. A study on postoperative sore throat patients further found humidifiers to be effective in alleviating pain and reducing the severity of the condition. 13
9. Eat a Marshmallow
Though it may seem odd, the gelatin in a marshmallow is thought to coat the throat and provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort. 14 After all the tea, water, and chicken soup, a marshmallow might just be the sweet respite you need to get through your illness!
10. Try Some Licorice Root
A study on postoperative sore throats found that gargling with licorice root was effective in reducing pain, in addition to curbing the frequency and severity of the condition. 15 Gargling a couple of times a day with a licorice root solution, or even drinking licorice root tea, may help ease sore throat pain.
Know When To Get Additional Help
DIY sore throat remedies may be popular and effective alternatives to more traditional medicine, but that doesn’t mean you should solely rely on them. Always seek medical attention if your sore throat gets worse, or if it doesn’t improve within 5 days. Also, seek help if the sore throat is accompanied by joint pain, earache, rash, a fever, blood in saliva or phlegm, a lump in your neck, or difficulty breathing or swallowing. These may all be signs of something serious.
For more helpful articles follow the links below:
3. Satomura K, et al. “Prevention Of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections By Gargling: A Randomized Trial. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
4. “14 Ways To Soothe A Sore Throat”. Health.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
5. “14 Ways To Soothe A Sore Throat”. Health.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
6. Puertollano MA, et al. “Dietary Antioxidants: Immunity And Host Defense. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
7. Mandal, Manisha Deb. “Honey: Its Medicinal Property And Antibacterial Activity”. N.p., 2011. Web. 4 July 2017.
8. Rennard, Barbara O. et al. “Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro”. N.p., 2017. Print.
9. “14 Ways To Soothe A Sore Throat”. Health.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
10. Šlapak, Ivo et al. “Efficacy Of Isotonic Nasal Wash (Seawater) In The Treatment And Prevention Of Rhinitis In Children”. N.p., 2017. Print.
11. “Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe?”. Fda.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
12. Jung, Tae Hyeng et al. “The Effect Of The Humidifier On Sore Throat And Cough After Thyroidectomy”. N.p., 2017. Print.
13. Frank, Gabrielle. “Marshmallows Soothe What? 6 Weird Summer Health Tips (That Actually Work)”. TODAY.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
14. Frank, Gabrielle. “Marshmallows Soothe What? 6 Weird Summer Health Tips (That Actually Work)”. TODAY.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 July 2017.
15. Agarwal, Anil et al. “An Evaluation Of The Efficacy Of Licorice Gargle For Attenuating Postoperative Sore Throat: A Prospective, Randomized, Single-Blind Study”. N.p., 2017. Print.