Sore throats can be rough, and of course, if you’re suffering, there’s nothing wrong with a little relief. Honey, warm tea, and cough drops can all calm the throat irritation and inflammation.
It is not uncommon for us all to experience an occasional sore throat, and when this happens, it can be difficult to determine whether this is a sore throat that needs medical attention or if we can treat it ourselves with home remedies.
Being prepared and in the know about your body’s reactions is a good step towards feeling better, but there are some other things you should know.
Most sore throats are caused by viruses, and that means antibiotics, and drugs used to treat bacterial infections, may not help you or your child get better any faster.
To avoid getting that raw, scratchy, burning feeling at the back of your throat, you should stop smoking, and as for nonsmokers, you should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Also, take steps to steer clear of colds and the flu, which often bring on sore throats.
Prevention of Sore Throat
It’s important to always keep in mind some simple steps towards preventing, catching and spreading the sore throat.
- A cough or sneeze into a tissue to cover your mouth, and wash your hands as frequently as possible, especially after coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with someone else who is ill.
- Have hand sanitizer available at work, in your car or in your purse, and if you have been diagnosed with Strep, stay home until you have completed a day of antibiotics treatment.
- Stay away from people who are sick, and wash your hands often.
- Don’t share food, drink, or utensils, and keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and face.
- Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of fluids.
- The CDC recommends that everyone from 6 months and above get a flu vaccine every year.
Sore throats are uncomfortable and wholly inconvenient, but there are some things that you can do to get relief on your own.
- Get adequate rest to allow your body’s immune system to function optimally, and fight off any infections
- Stay well-hydrated, and avoid smoke and other irritants
- Avoid acidic food and beverages.
- Gargle with warm salt water
- Take acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen, and make sure you get plenty of rest.
- Use a humidifier, and drinks lots of fluids.
- Inhale steam, and run hot water in a sink, and drape a towel over your head to trap the steam. Breathe deeply through your mouth and nose for 5 to 10 minutes, and repeat several times a day.
- Give yourself some frozen treats like ice pops, and sip chicken broth or warm tea with honey. Don’t give honey to a child under one year of age.
- Take throat lozenges or suck on hard candy.
Treatment of Sore Throat
A sore throat caused by a viral infection usually lasts five to seven days and disappear without medical treatment. However, to ease pain and fever, many people turn to acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other mild pain relievers.
For children, consider giving your child over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications designed for infants or children. These include acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Pediatric Advil, Motrin Infant, others) to ease symptoms.
Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers, because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in some children.
Treating Bacterial Infections
If your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor should prescribe antibiotics for you, and you must take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed even if the symptoms are gone.
Failure to take all of the medication as directed can result in the infection worsening or spreading to other parts of the body, and it can increase a child’s risk of rheumatic fever or serious kidney inflammation.
If a sore throat is a symptom of any condition other than a viral or bacterial infection, other treatments option will likely be considered depending on the diagnosis.
Although a number of alternative treatments are commonly used to soothe a sore throat, clinical evidence is still limited about what works.
Consult your doctor before using any herbal remedies, as they can interact with prescription medications and may not be safe for children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions.
Herbal or alternative products for a sore throat are often packaged as teas, sprays or lozenges, and common alternative remedies include:
- Honeysuckle flower Slippery elm
- Licorice root
- Marshmallow root and
- other Chinese herbal medicines