When you’re reminded of your sore, scratchy throat every time you swallow or take a breath, it can seem like a sore throat takes an eternity to heal – and you’re suffering all along. The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to treat the pain at home.
Because a sore throat is often the result of a virus, such as the flu, there’s not much medication that can help treat it – but you can reach for over the counter pain relievers to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain.
Gargling with warm salt water is one of the best ways to relieve throat pain: dissolve one teaspoon of salt in an eight ounce glass of warm – not too hot – water, gargle it at the back of the throat near your tonsils, and spit it out. You can repeat every hour or two as needed. The salt helps draw mucus out of your tonsils, while the warmth soothes the discomfort.
You know it’s important to stay hydrated. Your body needs enough water to help you heal quickly and also to provide a protective layer of saliva and fluid throughout your mouth and throat; a dry throat is more prone to scratching and irritation. Drink plenty of water, of course, but you can do double duty by drinking warm liquids such as soup, tea, or water with lemon and honey. Warm liquids are especially comforting to a painful throat, but make sure they aren’t too hot, since adding a burn to the existent irritation will only make things worse!
Speaking of honey, it’s a great thing to have around when you have a sore throat. Adding a teaspoon or so to tea or warm water will coat your throat with a soothing layer; studies have also shown it also acts as a cough suppressant, which can prevent further irritation.
Moist heat is another source of relief for an aching throat: humid air can reduce dryness and help release swelling. You can use a humidifier to add moisture to a room (don’t run it too long or it will make the room overly damp), but if you don’t have one, a hot shower makes a good substitute. Run it for a few minutes until steam gathers and take a few deep breaths; alternatively, you can fill a bowl with very hot water and inhale the steam with a towel over your head. Steam will not only soothe your throat, but also ease any congestion you may be feeling along with it.