Every year, roughly 15 million Americans visit a doctor for a sore throat. Most patients will receive antibiotics despite that fact that only 20-30% of cases are bacterial.
The other 70-80% of cases are caused by a virus, meaning antibiotics won’t help.
This article covers a variety of throat infection remedies that will provide relief from throat pain and help you recover faster. Keep reading to learn more about how you can manage sore throat without a trip to the doctor.
What causes sore throat?
Sore throat is a common symptom associated with a variety of medical concerns.
It starts with the mucus membranes lining the inside of the throat gets infected or inflamed. Your body responds to this problem by sending white blood cells to fight off the invading germs.
This process causes the blood vessels in your throat to swell. This puts pressure on nerve endings and causes pain. The swelling can also make swallowing uncomfortable, difficult, and/or painful.
Swollen glands sore throat remedies
According to a 2013 report published on Science Daily, the majority of people who receive antibiotics for sore throat should not be taking antibiotics.
Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. If your sore throat is cased by a virus (which in most cases it is), antibiotics will not help. Rather than pay money for ineffective medicine, check out the home remedies listed below.
One of the easiest ways you can soothe a sore throat is by gargling with warm salt water, which effectively pulls the fluids out of swollen tissues to reduce swelling. Gargle frequently throughout the day for best results.
Sore throat remedies honey
Mix 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, and the juice from ½ a lemon into a ½ cup of hot water.
Stir or swirl until the honey is completely dissolved. Gargle for 20 seconds and spit.
Tea for sore throat
Cure sore throat instantly with hot tea. Some of the best teas to sip when you have a sore throat include:
- Chamomile tea: this naturally soothing tea has astringent, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve sore throat; chamomile tea also helps lubricate the throat
- Slippery elm: when mixed with hot water, powdered slippery elm bark forms a mucus-like matter that can help coat your throat and relieve pain
- Horehound tea: horehound is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich herb that has long been used to treat colds and sore throats; horehound tea also works as a cough expectorant
- Turmeric: similar to ginger, turmeric root is typically sold as a dried spice; when brewed into tea, turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties that can relieve pain and irritation
Drinking tea will also help prevent dehydration, which can make sore throat worse. Add honey to your tea for better, yummier results.
A spicy solution
Do you like hot sauce? Try adding 10-20 drops of your favorite hot sauce to a ½ cup of water. The hot ingredients in Tabasco sauce have antiviral and pain-killing properties.
Gargle with the mixture (but don’t swallow) to relieve sore throat.
Sore throat supplements
Supplements are a good alternative (or addition) to frequent gargling. We all know about Vitamin C, which has been shown to boost the immune system, but here are a few more to try:
- Echinacea has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
2. Garlic is another supplement that has been effective in treating sore throat. Take 600mg of garlic four times per day. Make sure to choose enteric-coated capsules and to take them with food.
3. Zinc lozenges have been shown to speed up recovery, but make sure not to take them for more than 5 days. Recommended dosage is 13mg every 2 hours for 3-4 days.
Sore throat remedies for kids
When I was a kid, there were only two good things about getting sick: skipping school and eating popsicles. Eating frozen foods (like popsicles) is a great way to soothe a sore throat.
Another yummy way to relieve a sore throat is with honey and lemon juice: mix 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds.
Make sure the liquid isn’t too hot before giving it to your child to swallow.
Honey works by coating the throat, and lemon juice dries up congestion. Some studies suggest that honey is more effective in relieving children’s coughs than cough medicine (and it tastes better).
Is your child having trouble sleeping? Use a vaporizer or humidifier in his bedroom at night to soothe sore throat and reduce coughing.
Tips for giving medicine to a sick child:
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Give your kid some control over the situation
- Bypass or fool the tongue
- Ask your doctor for help
- Choose an appealing flavor
- Give a visual reward
When to visit a doctor
Antibiotics are necessary in some cases, so it’s important to know when you should visit a doctor.
If you experience a high fever (over 101) with a severe sore throat for more than 1-2 days, you might have strep and you should visit a doctor.
Symptoms of a bacterial infection include:
- Difficulty sleeping due to swollen adenoids/tonsils
- Red rash along with sore throat
If you experience repeated bacterial infections, your doctor may prescribe a tonsillectomy (having your tonsils removed).
Caring for sore throat
You can speed up recovery by properly caring for your sore throat. In addition to the remedies listed above, drink plenty of fluids, take a vitamin C supplement, and minimize talking.
Avoid smoke and other irritants, use throat lozenges, and try oral pain relievers (like ibuprofen) if nothing else helps. Swallow 2 teaspoons of honey before bed to improve sleep.
You can minimize your risk of sore throat by replacing your toothbrush every month (and by throwing it out after recovering from a sore throat) and avoiding cigarette smoke.