Sore throat remedies: How to soothe a sore throat

Sore throats can be a real pain in the neck.According to the ...

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 2:02 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2018 2:02 PM

Sore throats can be a real pain in the neck.

According to the National Institutes of Health, viral infections cause most sore throats, usually triggered by the common cold or flu.

Most sore throats are caused by viruses

Gargling with water with salt or baking soda is recommended

Antibiotics, of course, don't work against viruses and therefore can't soothe the throat, but there are several options you can try.

Make some noise

Gargling with salt water may seem like an old wives' tale, but experts say it can be very effective way to ease a sore throat. A 2016 study found that rinsing with saline (salt water) helped heal wounds.

Salt draws up moisture and can prevent bacteria from growing; that's why it was used for centuries to cure meat.

Try gargling at least once an hour with 1 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Gargling more often with salt water is just fine, but don't add more salt. It can dehydrate and, if the throat membranes are too dry, make the pain worse.

Adding baking soda to the salt mixture is another popular recommendation. Baking soda neutralizes acid and inhibits the growth of yeast. The American Cancer Society, which recommends this for cancer patients experiencing mouth or throat pain, suggests mixing a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of warm water. As with salt, gargle, but don't swallow; too much soda can cause stomach issues.

If you can't stand salt or soda water, try plain, but keep gargling. One 2005 study split 387 healthy volunteers into three groups and asked the first to gargle three times a day with iodine-laced water and the second with plain water. The third group didn't gargle at all. At the end of 60 days, the group that gargled with plain water was 36% less likely to get sick.

Drink up

Stay hydrated to thin mucus secretions and soothe your irritated throat. Hot liquids such as tea and broth are good choices, because the warmth soothes pain. Broth-based chicken soup even has a tiny bit of science behind it.

One study in a lab Petri dish found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects, while another study of 15 people found that grandma's favorite remedy was better than hot or cold water at reducing mucus. A drainage of mucus, called post-nasal drip, is another common cause of sore throats.

Drinking very cold ice water or sucking on something cold may seem counterintuitive, but cold can numb the throat. But don't choose cold orange juice or other acid-based liquids; they will only intensify the pain.

You can also keep the throat moist by sucking on a piece of hard candy or, better yet, a medicated lozenge. The medicated lozenge will probably contain menthol or benzocaine, which have a numbing effect.

Add honey or herbs

Adding honey to your tea or other hot liquid may also help. Honey has known antimicrobial properties, which speed healing. Studies in children have shown that honey is better than popular over-the-counter cough suppressants and Benadryl for reducing nighttime coughs and sleeping problems.

Chamomile tea is a popular natural remedy due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and mild astringent qualities. It also has sedating effects and is often used as an anti-anxiety and sleep aid. A 1990 study found that inhaling steam with chamomile extract eased common cold symptoms, but experts say further research is needed to confirm those findings.

Peppermint tea is also said to be helpful for sore throats, due to its similarity to menthol. But there's little science behind those claims. Peppermint has mostly been studied as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

You'll also find suggestions on the internet to use apple cider vinegar to treat a sore throat, probably because of its antimicrobial characteristics. But the level of acid in vinegar is high -- about the same as stomach acid -- and might irritate rather than soothe.

Know the danger signs

If your sore throat is severe, meaning extremely painful, and is accompanied by a fever or swollen glands, you might have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor. The most common bacterial throat infection is strep throat, caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. It's highly contagious and can spread through a home or school quickly. Though adults certainly get strep, children between 5 and 15 are the most likely to develop strep and pass it along to family members.

To diagnose strep, your doctor will do a throat swab and, if positive for streptococcus, start you on a round of antibiotics, which you should finish. Don't rush back to work or school; you'll remain contagious for at least 24 hours after beginning the medication.

It's also important to treat strep because a lingering infection can lead to middle ear infections, kidney inflammation, scarlet fever and even toxic shock syndrome.

There's even a bizarre reaction that can happen in children with strep, called PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. Overnight, children will begin to exhibit obsessive-compulsive behavior, tics and severe tantrums that seem psychotic as their antibodies attack their brains and not the bacteria. Immediate treatment with antibiotics is key to preventing long-term damage.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 53°
Robinson
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 50°
Rockville
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Casey
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Brazil
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 53°
Marshall
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 53°
Cloudy and Cool
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1677939

Reported Deaths: 27996
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63537311208
DuPage1083221378
Will913951127
Lake801071088
Kane68469872
Winnebago41117561
Madison40130597
St. Clair36293598
McHenry34762330
Champaign27034197
Peoria26956368
Sangamon25767287
McLean23033219
Tazewell20666331
Rock Island18872361
Kankakee17943249
Kendall16221113
Macon15321251
LaSalle15052287
Vermilion14418201
Adams13167152
DeKalb12169134
Williamson12069174
Whiteside8307183
Jackson809394
Boone794883
Coles7895124
Ogle757989
Grundy739486
Franklin7335115
Knox7297169
Clinton7129102
Macoupin6965106
Marion6929144
Henry664277
Effingham6618100
Jefferson6561143
Livingston598498
Stephenson585493
Woodford577192
Randolph5560100
Christian535682
Fulton527376
Monroe5252103
Morgan5079100
Logan495374
Montgomery491881
Lee478960
Bureau443191
Saline434469
Perry433775
Fayette431264
Iroquois421777
McDonough374161
Shelby348748
Jersey336253
Lawrence333433
Crawford333230
Douglas328137
Union307248
Wayne304363
Richland280057
White280033
Hancock274035
Clark266540
Cass266330
Pike265258
Edgar260149
Clay259254
Bond257425
Ford245659
Warren244266
Carroll236838
Moultrie235733
Johnson228832
Wabash217219
Jo Daviess216129
Massac215850
Mason214452
Washington212528
De Witt206230
Greene205340
Mercer204736
Piatt202314
Cumberland190226
Menard172313
Jasper161321
Marshall141521
Hamilton134122
Schuyler108310
Brown106610
Edwards104218
Pulaski104212
Stark81628
Gallatin7889
Alexander72512
Scott7126
Henderson70614
Calhoun6932
Hardin60616
Putnam5654
Pope5536
Unassigned1622433
Out of IL130

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 1005797

Reported Deaths: 16449
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1353572119
Lake663011164
Allen57820801
Hamilton46296464
St. Joseph44311613
Elkhart35888509
Vanderburgh32214480
Tippecanoe27898258
Johnson25056445
Hendricks23854359
Porter22890365
Madison18724409
Clark18540252
Vigo17449303
Monroe15242199
LaPorte15124250
Delaware15043261
Howard14719289
Kosciusko12285147
Hancock11709175
Bartholomew11602180
Warrick11287189
Floyd11082215
Wayne10965253
Grant10051220
Morgan9457176
Boone8913116
Dubois8263131
Dearborn820893
Henry8200152
Noble8017106
Marshall7916135
Cass7528121
Lawrence7447171
Shelby7176119
Jackson697289
Gibson6584115
Harrison647591
Knox6418106
Huntington6385100
DeKalb630699
Montgomery6252110
Miami592298
Putnam580078
Clinton574971
Whitley564255
Steuben560676
Wabash5324104
Jasper529879
Jefferson510297
Ripley499886
Adams481576
Daviess4670114
Scott438574
Greene424496
Wells423088
Clay422060
White418164
Decatur4164102
Fayette406187
Jennings386661
Posey376644
LaGrange357678
Washington357651
Randolph344499
Spencer339543
Fountain334760
Sullivan328652
Starke316470
Owen314170
Fulton309467
Orange293564
Jay284145
Franklin265443
Perry265352
Rush261332
Carroll261133
Vermillion257754
Parke231126
Pike228843
Tipton227559
Blackford192642
Pulaski183457
Crawford159223
Newton157848
Benton150217
Brown146147
Martin138219
Switzerland134911
Warren121016
Union107016
Ohio84513
Unassigned0540