Home Remedies for Sore Throat
Your throat hurts and it feels not just scratchy, but also swollen. It feels like there’s a lump in your throat and you find it difficult to swallow. If you or your child is experiencing these symptoms, you probably have a sore throat (also Known as pharyngitis).1
A sore throat is commonly caused by either viral infection (such as the flu, common cold, chicken pox, measles, whooping cough, and croup) or bacterial infection (such as strep throat). Other causes can be allergies, irritation, and acid reflux.2
If your sore throat lasts longer than five to seven days, you should see your doctor.2 This article offers information about sore throats and some home remedies that may help ease your symptoms in the short term.
What can home remedies do to help a sore throat?
Home remedies can
- Help relieve symptoms until the infection goes away
Home remedies cannot
- Cure sore throat, strep throat, viral infection of the throat or tonsillitis
- Prevent a sore throat or tonsillitis with any certainty
REMINDER: Home remedies are NEVER a substitute for medical attention.
Which home remedies can help relieve discomfort caused by a sore throat?
- Gargle several times a day with warm salt water. Note: Do not swallow.
(mix 1/4 teaspoon of table salt with 1/2 cup of warm water)2
- Drink warm or cool liquids (whichever feels more soothing). These can include tea, soup, and rehydration drinks3
- Eat flavored ice pops3
- Nonprescription sore throat sprays4
- Get plenty of rest3
- Use a humidifier in the bedroom to help reduce dry air while sleeping3
- Lozenges or hard candy (children under the age of four shouldn’t have these because of risk of choking)3
- Use over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Children should take OTC pain medications designed for infants or children. These include Children’s Tylenol®, Infant’s FeverAll®, and others.)2
REMINDER: If a severe sore throat occurs frequently or lasts longer than five to seven days, make sure you contact your doctor.2
When to contact your doctor about a sore throat
You should seek medical attention for yourself or your child if the sore throat is severe, lasts longer than five to seven days, and isn’t associated with allergy or irritation. Here are some signals and symptoms that will help you determine when to see your doctor:2
- Severe and persistent sore throat
- Difficulty with breathing and swallowing or opening mouth
- Joint Pain
- Fever (exceeding 101°)
- Lump in neck
- Blood in saliva
- Frequently recurring sore throat
- Lump in neck
- Hoarseness lasting over two weeks
If your doctor’s exam reveals your sore throat is caused by a virus, it won’t require any medical treatment, and will usually clear up in five to seven days.4 But, you can help relieve the discomfort of sore throat pain by trying any of the home remedies described above.
If your doctor determines that the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection (such as strep throat), it’s likely you’ll receive a prescription for a round of antibiotics. Remember, you should always finish ALL the antibiotics, even if you feel better, unless instructed by your doctor to stop. The home remedies above may help relieve the discomfort caused by sore throat while the antibiotics are fighting the bacterial infection.4
What are some ways to prevent a sore throat?
- Wash your hands regularly and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.3
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils3
- Regularly clean items commonly shared with other people such as telephones and television remote controls3
- Avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke2
- Avoid inhaling chemical irritants2
Disclaimer: The information listed on this site is for informational and educational purposes and is not meant as medical advice. Discuss your condition with your doctor. Every patient’s case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor’s specific instructions.
- Mayo Clinic. Sore Throat (Overview). Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/home/ovc-20201937. Updated August 8, 2017, Accessed May 1, 2017.
- American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Sore Throats (Patient Health Information). Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/sore-throats. Accessed May 1, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic. Sore Throat (Self-management). Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/manage/ptc-20202009. Updated August 8, 2017, Accessed May 1, 2017
- Mayo Clinic. Sore Throat (Treatment). Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351640. Updated August 8, 2017, Accessed May 1, 2017