Treating Your Sore Throat at Home

Feeling a sore throat coming on? You don’t need to visit your doctor to get relief! Read on to learn how you can soothe your throat and ease your aches at home. With the right remedies, you can get back to feeling healthy and happy again.

Quick facts: Treating Sore Throat At Home

  • ✅ Saltwater gargles can reduce throat irritation and swelling – Mayo Clinic
  • ✅ Sucking on throat lozenges can provide temporary relief – Harvard Health
  • ✅ Apple cider vinegar can be used as a gargle to reduce throat inflammation – Healthline
  • ✅ Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce throat pain – WebMD
  • ✅ Resting and drinking plenty of fluids can help the body fight off a sore throat – Cleveland Clinic
  • Overview

    Treating a sore throat at home is a straightforward process that you can do without having to visit a doctor. Before embarking on a home treatment however, it is important to first understand the causes of a sore throat. Knowing the root cause makes it easier to treat the issue and also to avoid it happening in the future.

    Let’s take a look at the various causes of sore throats and the best home remedies to treat them:

    Causes of sore throat

    A sore throat is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the throat and vocal cords. Viral infections such as the common cold, flu, and mononucleosis can cause pain and inflammation in the throat. Bacterial infections such as strep throat are also common causes of a sore throat.

    Allergens or irritants in the air can also be a contributor to a sore throat. Smoke, fumes, chemicals, allergens such as pollen and pet dander, and acid reflux can all cause soreness and discomfort in the back of your throat. When these irritants are present, it’s called pharyngitis or laryngitis. Other conditions such as swollen tonsils or changes in hormones during pregnancy can also cause a sore throat.

    Symptoms of sore throat

    Sore throat is a common condition and can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to swallow. Common symptoms include pain or a scratchy feeling in the throat, coughing, hoarseness, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Depending on the cause of your sore throat, other symptoms may include high fever, runny nose with colored discharge (yellow or green) and body aches.

    It is important to get medical advice if your symptoms worsen or if you have difficulty swallowing food or liquids or have trouble breathing. Self-care measures such as:

    • Rest
    • Increased fluid intake
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers

    can help manage the discomfort of a sore throat at home.

    Home Remedies

    While it is always a good idea to consult a medical professional if your sore throat persists, there are some home remedies you can try to help manage your symptoms. From drinking warm tea to gargling with salt water, there are a variety of home remedies that can provide some relief. Let’s look at some of the most common ones:

    • Drinking warm tea with honey or lemon.
    • Gargling with warm salt water.
    • Sucking on lozenges or hard candy.
    • Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
    • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

    Gargle with salt water

    Gargling with salt water is an easy and effective way to soothe a sore throat. This age-old remedy helps reduce inflammation and can help kill off those pesky viruses that cause sore throats in the first place.

    To make a salt water gargle, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds before spitting it out. As an alternative, you can use baking soda instead of salt to form a solution. It also helps remove bacteria from the throat that can cause infection. Make sure to drink plenty of other fluids throughout the day to keep your throat moist and reduce irritation.

    Drink warm liquids

    Drinking warm liquids such as tea, herbal tea, chicken soup and other warm broths can help soothe a sore throat. The warmth helps to loosen the mucus buildup in your throat. It also helps to keep your throat from drying out by keeping it lubricated. Avoid anything that is too hot that could burn your throat.

    You can also gargle with warm salt water for additional relief and prevention; mix 1/4 teaspoon of table salt into 8 ounces of warm water and gargle several times a day for maximum relief.

    Use a humidifier

    A humidifier or steam inhaler can be a soothing addition to any home remedy for a sore throat. It helps loosen thick mucus and can offer relief when a sore throat is caused by post-nasal drip or allergies. Allergy sufferers may find relief from the airway inflammation associated with allergies by using a humidifier, as it keeps the air moist and cool, reducing irritation in the throat.

    Humidifiers are readily available at most drug stores and can be used safely with few risks of adverse reactions. Additionally, many cold and flu medicines contain menthol, which works to ease breathing and helps to soothe an irritated throat. However, it’s important to take care when using these products, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have asthma.

    Take over-the-counter medications

    Over-the-counter medications can help soothe the pain of a sore throat. Analgesics, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin can help reduce pain and inflammation. There are also various cough suppressants and expectorants available to help ease symptoms such as coughing. Some over-the-counter cold medications may also contain a combination of ingredients, such as an analgesic or expectorant.

    Be sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully and not exceed recommended dosages. If you are taking any other medications or supplements, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter remedies for your sore throat.

    Preventing Sore Throat

    Taking the right preventative measures is key to preventing sore throats. One of the most important things you can do is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and creating healthy sleep patterns. Additionally, good hygiene practices like washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people who are sick are also important in preventing sore throat.

    Let’s look at some more ways you can prevent sore throat:

    Avoid smoking

    Avoiding smoking is key to preventing a sore throat. The chemicals in cigarettes and cigars irritate the back of your throat, which can cause dryness and soreness. If you smoke or vape, try cutting back or quitting altogether. If possible, avoid being around secondhand smoke as well. This can further irritate your airways and cause added discomfort in the throat area.

    Additionally, if you use nasal sprays regularly to clear up congestion, make sure to follow the directions on the package and only use as directed.

    Avoid close contact with people who are sick

    The best way to prevent a sore throat is to avoid coming into contact with people who are sick. This means avoiding crowds and areas of close contact, such as conferences and classrooms, if possible. Additionally, you should strive to maintain good hygiene practices, such as keeping your hands clean and avoiding touching your nose or eyes.

    If someone around you is sick with a sore throat, it’s important that you keep your distance and make sure that their bodily fluids aren’t coming in contact with yours or other people’s as well. This means avoiding sharing utensils, food or drinks with them. You should also try to keep their living space clean so that the infection cannot spread. If you must come into close contact with someone who is sick, be sure to wear a face mask when doing so.

    Avoid air pollutants

    One of the best ways to prevent a sore throat is to avoid air pollutants such as cigarette smoke and smog. If you are exposed to air pollutants even briefly, it can irritate your throat and leave it feeling sore and irritated. Avoiding polluted areas or using an air purifier at home can help reduce your exposure. But if you already have a dry cough, you can try dry cough treatment at home.

    Additionally, make sure that you’re getting adequate rest so that your body can heal from the effects of pollution when you do come into contact with it. Poor sleep can leave you vulnerable to bacteria as well, leaving your throat more susceptible to infection.

    Finally, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to flush out any irritants that may have made their way into your throat in the form of smoke or dust.

    When to See a Doctor

    Sore throats are a common ailment that can usually be treated at home. Most of the time, drinking warm fluids and avoiding irritants can usually do the trick. However, there are cases when visiting a doctor is necessary. Let’s take a closer look at what those cases are:

    • When the sore throat is accompanied by a fever.
    • When the sore throat persists for more than a week.
    • When the sore throat is suddenly severe and intense.
    • When the sore throat is accompanied by difficulty in swallowing.
    • When the sore throat is accompanied by swollen glands.
    • When the sore throat is accompanied by white or yellow patches.


    A high fever is often the first symptom of a sore throat and one that should get attention from a doctor. A fever is usually considered to be anything over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius and may be accompanied by body aches, chills, or general discomfort.

    If you have a sore throat and a fever that won’t go away after 48 hours of home remedies, you should seek medical advice. Fever can indicate different types of bacteria or viruses in the body, some of which might require direct medical attention or antibiotics. In addition, if your fever gets too high—over 104 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius—it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible as this may indicate a dangerous infection.

    Difficulty swallowing

    Difficulty swallowing is a common symptom of sore throat and can be a sign of several underlying medical conditions. If difficulty swallowing persists for more than two days, or if other symptoms are present such as fever, coughing, or pain radiating to the ears, it is important to see a healthcare provider.

    Difficulty swallowing could also indicate the presence of other problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), vocal cord dysfunction (VCD), laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), tonsillitis, epiglottitis, or serious infections like strep throat. Therefore, if you experience difficulty swallowing along with other symptoms related to your sore throat or have recurrent difficulty swallowing episodes that last longer than two days, talk to your doctor.

    Swollen lymph nodes

    Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign of an infection, such as strep throat. Swollen lymph nodes are small lumps of tissue throughout your body that contain white blood cells, which help the body fight off infections and other illnesses. Swollen lymph nodes can be felt in the neck (under the jaw or behind the ears), in the armpits, and in the groin area. If you feel swollen lymph nodes while treating your sore throat at home, it may be time to see a doctor.

    Your physician will typically perform a physical examination and order any necessary tests to determine what is causing your swollen lymph nodes. Treatment depends on what is causing them, but typically includes antibiotics or other medications to help reduce inflammation. Furthermore, if you have difficulty swallowing due to swollen lymph nodes, your physician may recommend natural remedies such as:

    • Drinking warm water
    • Avoiding citrus fruits or acidic foods

    White spots on the throat

    White spots on the throat may be a sign of a more severe condition. If you notice white spots, bumps, or patches on your throat area, it is important to contact your doctor right away.

    It’s possible that these spots could be caused by an infection such as strep throat or tonsillitis. Streptococcal infections cause white patches and sores to form at the back of the throat and can usually be identified by a quick swab test if they are suspected. If left untreated, strep throat or tonsillitis can develop further and cause complications.

    Other causes of white spots in the throat area could include:

    • Oral thrush, which is an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth;
    • Tuberculosis; or
    • Cancer.

    Therefore, it is always best to seek medical attention for sore throats that have visible signs such as white spots or bumps in order to determine the underlying cause and receive proper treatment.

    FAQs about: Treating Sore Throat At Home

    Q: What are the first steps to treat a sore throat?

    A: The first step is to drink plenty of liquids, such as water, tea, or juice. This can help soothe the throat and loosen mucus. Additionally, gargling with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation. It is also important to get plenty of rest and avoid speaking or singing for extended periods of time.

    Q: What foods should I eat to help with a sore throat?

    A: Eating foods that are high in vitamin C, such as oranges, can help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Additionally, foods such as honey and yogurt have natural antibacterial properties that can help soothe the throat. Eating warm foods, such as soup or oatmeal, can also reduce throat pain.

    Q: Are there any over-the-counter medications I can take for a sore throat?

    A: Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, throat lozenges and sprays can help soothe soreness. However, it is important to consult a doctor before taking any medications.

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