Scratchy, itchy, burning, or aching — a sore throat comes in a variety of painful forms, but no matter which kind you’re experiencing, you want relief, fast. Here are some ways you can soothe a painful throat as you heal.
One of the most effective treatments for a sore throat is also one of the simplest: gargling with warm salt water every few hours helps to reduce swelling and ease pain. Dissolve ¼ to ½ a teaspoon salt in warm, but not hot, water and gargle it at the back of your throat for a few seconds before spitting it out.
Along those same lines, warm liquids in general are comforting to a sore throat. Broths and soups are good food options because they provide relaxing warmth to the area as well as being easier to swallow than solids. Try sipping on warm water or tea (preferably a non-caffeinated variety, since they’re less dehydrating), and go one step further by adding some honey — it brings a coating of moisture to a dry throat and also has some antibacterial properties.
Sucking on something like a throat lozenge, many of which come with menthol or a numbing agent, can also provide relief, but if you don’t have any handy or just can’t stand the taste, a hard candy works just as well. While they’re not a cure, they do encourage saliva production, which helps moisturize a dry throat.
Getting enough fluids, warm or cold, is key. Maintaining proper hydration levels not only helps your body stay strong enough to fight an infection, it also keep your throat from drying out further, and thins mucus secretions or post-nasal drip that may be contributing to the discomfort.
Spend time in a moist, warm atmosphere, either by running a humidifier (especially helpful while you sleep) or taking a hot shower and allowing the steam to fill the room — dry air leads to a dry throat.
Avoid potential irritants such as smoke (including second-hand smoke), chemical fumes, car exhaust, and allergens. Over the counter pain medication can also be used to reduce pain and swelling of the throat, and to treat other symptoms such as a fever.