If swallowing is making you cringe in pain, you most likely have a sore throat. It may be part of a bigger problem requiring a doctor’s visit, such as strep throat. It could be from a cold or the flu. Or, it might just be a dry throat.
Whatever the cause, the pain and burning of a sore throat can be irritating. One symptom involves constant swallowing, which can turn the simplest things like eating and talking into a chore. Below are 10 remedies and recommendations that can help soothe the strain of a sore throat.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of fluids is a good plan in general, and there are also specific benefits for your throat. It not only soothes the throat and keeps you hydrated, but also may help to wash away offending bacteria or irritants lingering at the back of your throat and around the tonsils.
Sipping warm fluids, such as tea or soup, is another suggestion for easing symptoms. Many people say they find relief with citrus drinks, possibly combined with honey.
Gargle With Salt Water
Gargling with salt water at frequent intervals can ease the discomfort of a sore throat, and it can also help protect against infections taking root and getting worse. To make the perfect salt water mix, add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle with this mixture at least once an hour.
If you have postnasal drip, you might want to gargle more often to soothe your throat. To add a little flavor to the solution, include 1 tablespoon of sage or a half-teaspoon of turmeric.
Fix the Drip
Postnasal drip tends to be a common cause of sore throats. Using a saline nasal spray or a saline irrigation system are helpful approaches in getting rid of a postnasal drip.
For more information on saline irrigation, read Sinus Congestion and Nasal Irrigation.
Suck on a Lozenge or Hard Candy
Another good way to keep the throat moist is to suck on throat lozenges or even cough drops that help coat and protect the throat. Possible ingredients include pectin, zinc and vitamin C, all of which can ease symptoms and support normal immune function when you're feeling under the weather.
Try a Cold Drink
Some find relief with cold, nonalcoholic beverages or sucking on ice-cubes or ice pops. It's both soothing and refreshing. But if you find that sucking on ice-cubes irritates your throat, try taking small chips of ice and letting them melt in your mouth.
While the evidence is infrequent, some individuals say they are helped by steam. If your sore throat was caused by a cold or flu or if you're looking for another way to clear your nasal passages, try breathing in steam. Just make sure you approach this safely so that you don’t get burned.
For a more soothing steam, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to hot water.
Honey, Vinegar and More
An old-fashioned remedy that has many variations is a drink of apple cider vinegar, honey and water. Just mix one tablespoon each of honey and vinegar with 8 ounces of hot water and drink. Honey and vinegar both have antibacterial properties.
If you think you can stomach something a little stronger, try this Russian remedy: Mix 1 tablespoon each of horseradish, cloves and honey with 8 ounces of hot water. Then, consume and enjoy the relief.
Help From the Drug Store
Over-the-counter pain relievers can be quite effective on harsh sore throat pain. Check out sore throat sprays that temporarily numb the back of the throat. Like gargling, it will have to be done frequently. See package labeling for details.
These remedies are great when dealing with pestering symptoms likely to go away on their own eventually — but in the meantime, you would like some accessible aid in soothing the pain.
Some types of sore throats (e.g., strep throat), however, need to be treated with antibiotics to avoid problems down the line. Likewise, other types need to be dealt with differently (e.g., a sore throat stemming from acid reflux), and your doctor can help.