Quick and Easy Home Remedies for Sore Throat

A sore throat can be a real pain in the neck, literally. It can make it hard to eat, drink, sleep, talk and do anything else you need to do. A sore throat can have many causes, such as allergies, colds, strep throat or other infections. The best way to find out what’s causing your sore throat is to see your doctor. But if you can’t do that right away, there are some natural remedies that can help you feel better in the meantime.

Here are some of the best home remedies for sore throat that actually work, according to experts and research.

  1. Warm and cold fluids

Drinking fluids can help keep your throat moist and reduce inflammation. You can try warm drinks, like tea or chicken soup, or cold drinks, like ice water or popsicles. It depends on what feels good for your throat. Some people find that warm drinks soothe their throat, while others prefer cold drinks to numb the pain.

Liquids can also help clear your mucous membranes, keep things flowing and prevent sinus infections, says Dr. Daniel Allan, a family medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic.

  1. Salt water or baking soda gargle

Gargling with warm salt water or baking soda water can help ease the discomfort of a sore throat and break down secretions. Salt water can reduce swelling and irritation in your throat by drawing out excess water from the tissues. Baking soda can also soothe your throat, break up mucus and help with acid reflux, which can irritate your throat.

To make a salt water or baking soda gargle, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt or baking soda in a glass of warm water. Gargle the solution for a few seconds and spit it out. Repeat this every three hours or so.

  1. Over-the-counter antihistamines and pain relievers

If your sore throat is caused by allergies or post-nasal drip, you may benefit from taking an antihistamine, which can reduce the histamine levels in your body and relieve the symptoms of congestion and drip. Histamines are chemicals that help your immune system fight foreign substances, but sometimes they can cause inflammation and irritation in your throat.

You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen, to ease the pain and inflammation in your throat and glands.

  1. Steam and humidity

Inhaling steam can help loosen mucus and moisturize your throat. You can take a hot shower and breathe in the steam, or use a humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air. You can also add some herbs or essential oils to the water, such as chamomile, peppermint or eucalyptus, for extra soothing effects.

  1. Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener that can coat your throat and soothe it by reducing irritation. Honey also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help speed up healing for sore throats. One study found that honey was more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants.

You can add honey to your tea or warm water, or take it by itself as a spoonful. However, avoid giving honey to children under one year old, as it may contain botulism spores that can be harmful for them.

  1. Herbal teas

Herbal teas are another way to hydrate and soothe your throat. Some herbs have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and astringent properties that can help with sore throats. For example:

  • Chamomile tea: Chamomile is a calming herb that can help reduce stress and inflammation in your throat. Some studies have shown that inhaling chamomile steam can help relieve symptoms of a cold, including a sore throat.
  • Peppermint tea: Peppermint has menthol, which can thin mucus and calm sore throats and coughs. Peppermint also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties that may encourage healing.
  • Licorice root tea: Licorice root has been used for centuries to treat sore throats. It has anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects that can reduce swelling and infection in your throat.
  • Marshmallow root tea: Marshmallow root contains mucilage, a sticky substance that can coat and protect your throat from irritation. It also has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce pain and swelling.

To make herbal teas, steep the dried or fresh herbs in hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or lemon if desired.

These are some of the natural remedies that can help you get rid of a sore throat. However, if your sore throat lasts longer than a week, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, rash, difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. You may have a more serious infection that needs medical attention.