You can often feel it coming on well before it strikes: a “sensitive” feeling that makes swallowing uncomfortable. When a sore throat strikes, it can really dampen your day. It’s hard to talk, eat and even swallow. The soreness stays with you, so that you’re ready to try any type of relief from the constant irritation. The best home remedies involve keeping the throat moist and lucky for sore throat suffers everywhere, there are quite a few. Following are home remedies your doctor might not mention, which are perfectly safe and have given countless sufferers relief over the decades.
Is it Strep Throat?
First, however, let’s rule out the possibility of strep. Strep throat is contagious and comes with a host of other symptoms. Unlike the sore throat you get with a common cold, strep is caused by bacteria. That means you might need more than the home remedies for sore throat we have here. You see, when something is caused by bacteria, it can often be treated with antibiotics. Usually that’s penicillin. The bacteria that causes strep is called Group A Streptococcus.
don’t treat a sore throat with antibiotics unless it’s strep
Strep lasts 3-5 days and will go away on its own even if you don’t take penicillin. Your consideration here is that strep is contagious and passed on to other people very easily, through direct contact. Children are more susceptible:
- When a child has a sore throat there’s a 37% chance that it’s strep.
- In adults, only 5-15% of sore throats are caused by streptococcal infection.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to know how to tell strep in your child. You wouldn’t want to send him or her off to school, infecting others. Also, a strep infection can sometimes lead to more serious ailments which affect your organs. So, just to rule out the possibility of strep, here they are, the symptoms of a strep throat:
- absence of a cough (that would indicate it’s caused by a common cold)
- absence of a runny nose (again, that’s a cold)
- tonsils are swollen
- lymph nodes are swollen
- temperature over 100 F (but not always present with strep)
- white areas on the throat, visible when patient says “ahhhh”
The Common Sore Throat: Symptoms
Did you know 80% of sore throats are caused by a common virus, and go away within a few days on their own? It’s what you do in the meantime that makes all the difference. The home remedies you see here will treat the pain, irritation and “dry” scratchy feeling brought on by a sore throat. A sore throat is a symptom itself, and any number of things can cause it. If you’ve ruled out strep, here’s what you may be experiencing along with your sore throat:
- runny nose
- low grade fever
- an overall feeling of being sick
Chances are, you have a cold. What home remedies can you try until it runs its course and disappears? There are many, running from the well-known salt water gargle to some which may take a little courage to try.
The Common Sore Throat: Causes
Like we said before, you may just have a common cold, which is caused by a virus. You may have something else, however. Allergies can cause a sore throat, and so can irritants such as strong chemical cleaners, bleach. Even dry winter air can cause your throat to feel scratchy and your voice to become hoarse.
The main reason for the actual pain is usually swelling.
Home Remedies for a Sore Throat
Whatever the cause may be, here are some home remedies to try. Find one that works for you and you’ve got a lifetime solution for getting fast relief at home, naturally.
1. Gargle with warm salt water. Salt water gargling does wonders for a sore throat. The burning sensation goes away and the swelling goes down. Salt draws moisture out of anything it touches: put one on a slug and see what happens! Salt will do the same thing to your swollen tissues, which is what makes the swelling decrease.
2. Steam. Run a humidifier or a vaporizer and get some moisture in the air. Fill a bowl with hot water, get a towel and hover over the steam. The idea here is to relieve the dryness of your throat so the pain goes away.
3. Avoid Making it Worse. That can sound a little obvious, but you may be doing things to make your sore throat worse without knowing it. Acidic juices and foods will irritate a sore throat. But don’t skip the liquids altogether! Since it may be uncomfortable to swallow, you may be avoiding drinking water, which can lead to dehydration.
Also, cigarette smoke or strong household cleaners will irritate your condition. What you want is to breathe moist, clean air.
4. Licorice Root. Tea made from licorice root will coat and may soothe a sore throat. The teabags are sold at natural health stores, and there are also licorice root capsules you can find at drugstores.
5. Gargle With Apple Cider Vinegar. Put one teaspoon of ACV into a glass of water and gargle every hour. Unlike the salt water gargle, you actually swallow this one. Added benefit: if there is a mucous membrane on your throat, the vinegar will make it disappear.
6. Soothing Foods and Beverages. Warm liquids will do nicely to soothe a sore throat. Broth is especially useful, as is chicken soup. Warm water with honey works well too, but keep an eye on your sugar intake.
7. Onion & Sugar. You’re not even going to believe this one, but people swear by it. It involves extracting onion and juices and ingesting them.
- You take a glass and put a 1-inch layer of chopped onion.
- Cover that with 1/4 inch of sugar.
- Repeat until your glass is tightly packed and full.
- Turn it upside down into a bowl but don’t remove the glass.
- Put your encased tower of “remedy” onto a stove top so it starts to simmer.
- The juices will run into the bowl but the onion chunks will stay inside the glass.
- Drink the juice.
- Thankfully, you don’t have to eat the onion chunks!
8. Thyme. The herb Thyme is a disinfectant and can be used as a rinse to treat your sore throat. Added benefit is that it’s rich in anti-oxidants since it’s a plant. You can simply buy Thyme tea at a natural health food store.
All in all, your sore throat should be gone in 2-7 days. Until then, find the right home remedy to get you through it. If your sore throat persists longer, see a doctor.