A sore throat is characterized by throat pain, itchiness, or irritation. The primary symptom is throat pain. When you try to swallow, the pain may worsen, making it difficult to consume foods and liquids.
Even if your sore throat isn’t severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctor, it’s still uncomfortable and may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. You can relieve the pain and irritation with at-home remedies.
In general, the remedies discussed below may help relieve a mild or typical sore throat. If you have a severe sore throat, especially if it is getting worse or has lasted several days, you should see a doctor to discuss your symptoms.
A common home remedy for sore throat symptoms is honey, either mixed in tea or taken on its own.
According to a 2021 article, honey is just as effective at taming coughs in children as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan is an active ingredient in over-the-counter medications such as Robitussin and Delsym.
A 2021 review of the literature looked at the effect of honey on acute upper respiratory tract infections. The researchers concluded that honey was more effective than some traditional remedies at relieving symptoms. Antibiotics and the antihistamine diphenhydramine were among the treatments.
- Gargle with saltwater
Gargling with warm salt water can relieve sore throats and help break down secretions. It is also known to aid in the killing of bacteria in the throat.
Add a half-teaspoon of salt to a full glass of warm water to make a saltwater solution. Gargle with it to help with swelling and throat clearing.
People suffering from a sore throat should gargle with saltwater at least once an hour, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
- Gargle with baking soda
While saltwater gargles are more popular, gargling with a baking soda-saltwater mixture can also help relieve a sore throat. This oral solution can kill bacteria and prevent fungi growth.
If you have a sore mouth, the National Cancer Institute suggests gargling and gently swishing around a mixture of:
1 cup hot water
a quarter teaspoon of baking soda
a quarter teaspoon of salt
The NCI recommends using the rinse three or four times per day and then rinsing your mouth with plain water.
- chamomile tea
Chamomile tea has long been used for medicinal purposes, including treating sore throats. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and astringent.
According to an older literature review from 2010, inhaling chamomile steam can help relieve cold symptoms such as a sore throat.
Chamomile tea may provide the same benefit. It may also stimulate the immune system, assisting your body in fighting off the infection that caused your sore throat to begin with.
Peppermint is well known for its breath-freshening properties. According to a 2019 literature review, it also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Peppermint also contains the compound menthol, which helps thin mucus and soothe sore throats and coughs.
While many peppermint teas are commercially available, you can also make your own. Allow some dried peppermint leaves to soak in boiled water for a few minutes. After a few minutes, strain the tea and set it aside to cool slightly.
Sore throats may also benefit from diluted peppermint oil sprays. Mix a few drops of food-grade peppermint oil with 1 ounce of a plant-based oil, such as:
softened coconut oil olive oil almond oil
Fenugreek comes in a variety of forms. Fenugreek seeds can be eaten, fenugreek oil applied to the skin, or fenugreek tea consumed. Fenugreek tea is a popular sore throat remedy.
According to a 2018 literature review, fenugreek has healing properties. It can help with, among other things:
kill bacteria that cause irritation or inflammation serve as an effective antifungal promote lactation
Pregnant women should avoid taking large doses of fenugreek, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
7, Marshmallow root
Mucilage, a mucus-like substance found in marshmallow root, coats and soothes a sore throat. According to a 2019 literature review, marshmallow root can be beneficial for respiratory tract irritations such as sore throat.
Marshmallow root is readily available:
as a herbal tea, tincture, dried herb, and capsules
Remember that marshmallow products, such as those found in your favorite desserts, do not typically contain marshmallow root.
8, The root of licorice
Sore throats have long been treated with licorice root. An older 2009 study on postoperative sore throat found that licorice, when mixed with water to make a gargling solution, is effective at relieving symptoms.
A 2019 study also discovered that, of several herbal infusions tested, licorice root tea was the most effective at inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacterium is responsible for strep throat.
According to the NCCIH, licorice root remedies may be unsafe for pregnant or nursing women.
- Slipping elm
Slick elm, like marshmallow root, contains mucilage. When slippery elm is combined with water, it forms a slick gel that coats and soothes the throat.
Pour boiling water over powdered slippery elm bark, stir, and drink. Lozenges made from slippery elm may also be beneficial.
Slippery elm is a traditional remedy for sore throats, but more research is needed to determine its efficacy.
Some oral medications may be slowed by slippery elm. Use slippery elm at least 1 hour before taking oral medications to avoid potential drug interactions.
Garlic also has natural antibacterial properties. According to a 2014 literature review on the many therapeutic uses of garlic, it contains allicin, a compound known for its ability to fight infections.
According to a 2018 study, taking garlic supplements on a daily basis can help prevent and treat upper respiratory tract infections. These same respiratory tract infections can result in a sore throat.
Including fresh garlic in your diet is one way to benefit from its antimicrobial properties. Sucking or chewing on a garlic clove Brush your teeth afterward to protect them from enzymes and freshen your breath.
11, Cayenne pepper or hot sauce
Cayenne pepper, which is commonly used as a pain reliever, contains capsaicin, a natural compound known to block pain receptors.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that ingesting cayenne pepper mixed with warm water and honey can relieve sore throat pain, but this has not been scientifically proven.
Begin with a light sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a few drops of hot sauce, as both can be quite spicy. Remember that an initial burning sensation is normal.
Cayenne should not be consumed if you have open sores in your mouth.
12, Fluids that are cold
Cold liquids can help to relieve the pain of a sore throat. You can suck on an ice pop or ice cube in addition to drinking cold fluids.
An older survey from 2012, asked people how they dealt with sore throats. The findings revealed that participants drank cold drinks more frequently when their sore throat was thought to be caused by physical or environmental factors rather than infections.
A physical factor is air conditioning, while environmental factors include secondhand smoke and air pollution.
- Soup or broth
Chicken soup is a tried-and-true remedy for respiratory and throat ailments. You’ve probably heard a lot of anecdotes about this remedy, but an older study backs it up.
Various immune cells’ activity can contribute to inflammation, including a sore throat. A 2000 study investigated the ability of chicken soup to reduce the migration of specific immune cells known as neutrophils in a laboratory setting.
The researchers discovered that chicken soup inhibited cell migration in a dose-dependent manner. The researchers also discovered that the inhibitory activity of different brands of chicken soup varied.
- Humidity or steam
Dry air can aggravate a sore throat. Increasing the amount of moisture in the air can help. Inhaling steam, for example, can help relieve a sore throat.
Fill a bowl halfway with freshly boiled water. Drape a towel over your head and breathe normally, allowing steam to enter your mouth and nose. Repeat for 10 to 15 minutes. To keep the bowl steamy, you may need to add more freshly boiled water.
Another option is to turn on the hot setting of your shower and close the bathroom door. Inhale the warm, humid air once the bathroom has steamed up.
A humidifier can also be used to add moisture to the air. A 2017 literature review, on the other hand, found that heated, humidified air delivered by a humidifying device had no benefits or drawbacks for treating the common cold.
- Hot toddy
The hot toddy is another home remedy for sore throat that you may have heard of. This drink is made with honey, lemon, whiskey, and hot water.
There are no studies that show that drinking a hot toddy relieves a sore throat. An older 2008 study, on the other hand, discovered that drinking a hot fruit drink provided immediate and long-lasting relief from cold symptoms such as sore throat.
Honey’s health benefits have already been discussed. According to a 2020 literature review, lemon has anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for sore throats. The only ingredient to avoid is whiskey, as it can cause dehydration and throat irritation.
Check out this simple recipe for a hot toddy from the blog Cookie and Kate.
Resting may be all you need at the end of the day. If you start to feel a sore throat coming on, try to rest and get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can increase your risk of developing an infection. Even one night of severe sleep deprivation can result in an increase in inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.
It might also be a good idea to rest your voice. Talking loudly, singing, or shouting may aggravate your already sensitive throat.
Infant and child sore throat remedies
Infant and young child sore throats are certainly unpleasant, but the good news is that they rarely indicate a medical emergency on their own. Infants and children, however, may require different treatments than adults.
Here are a few pointers:
Incorporate a cool mist humidifier into your child’s room. Air moisture can help relieve sore throat pain.
Encourage children to drink as much as they can to stay hydrated. Citrus juices and ice pops should be avoided because they are acidic and may cause irritation.
Children under the age of five should not be given hard lozenges or anything else that could cause them to choke. When giving lozenges to elementary-aged children, proceed with caution.
Honey should not be given to children under the age of one year.
What to stay away from
When you have a sore throat, certain foods or environmental factors can aggravate your symptoms. Try to avoid the following things while you’re recovering:
Air pollution from dry air smoking or secondhand smoke potential allergens such as pollen, mold, or pet dander chemical fumes, such as those from household cleaners.
Alcoholic beverages acidic foods or drinks, such as citrus, tomatoes, or carbonated beverages dry or rough foods, such as pretzels, chips, or popcorn spicy foods.