A sore throat can mean a lot of things, from signaling an oncoming cold or an infection, to a reminder not to shout so much at the next sporting event. Whatever the reason, your first thought is usually how to manage the pain and alleviate the symptoms; although you may need to see a doctor if you suspect a serious infection such as strep throat, there are many options available to you at home as well.
You’ve probably heard this first remedy from your mother, and it’s a classic for a reason: gargling with salt water helps reduce inflammation and soothe pain in the throat. Combining about one teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water and gargling it utilizes salt’s antiseptic properties, sloughs away mucus, and flushes the area out. Many people find warm water with honey to be soothing as well.
Along those lines, warm liquids in general such as broth, soups, and tea (stick to caffeine-free, as caffeine is dehydrating) help ease throat pain. Drinking or eating cold liquids has much the same effect: try frozen things like popsicles and ice cubes to take down inflammation and reduce pain.
Depending on the cause of your sore throat, prescription medication may be needed at some point, but in most cases over the counter anti-inflammatory medications will do the trick. Standard painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin are good for reducing not only swelling in the throat, but other symptoms you may be experiencing, such as fever, headache, or body aches.
Other soothing remedies easily picked up at the drug store are throat lozenges (although hard candy can also do in a pinch), and throat sprays, many of which contain medication or anesthetics.
Humidity is also a useful tool: you can buy and run a humidifier, to minimize dryness in the air, as this can be irritating to an already-scratchy throat. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can also spend time in a steamy bathroom, or fill a large bowl with hot water and inhale the steam for a few minutes.
Finally, the best steps you can take at home are to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluid to stay hydrated.