Sore throat remedies: How to soothe a sore throat

Sore throats can be a real pain in the neck.According to the ...

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 1:02 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2018 1:02 PM

Sore throats can be a real pain in the neck.

According to the National Institutes of Health, viral infections cause most sore throats, usually triggered by the common cold or flu.

Most sore throats are caused by viruses

Gargling with water with salt or baking soda is recommended

Antibiotics, of course, don't work against viruses and therefore can't soothe the throat, but there are several options you can try.

Make some noise

Gargling with salt water may seem like an old wives' tale, but experts say it can be very effective way to ease a sore throat. A 2016 study found that rinsing with saline (salt water) helped heal wounds.

Salt draws up moisture and can prevent bacteria from growing; that's why it was used for centuries to cure meat.

Try gargling at least once an hour with 1 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Gargling more often with salt water is just fine, but don't add more salt. It can dehydrate and, if the throat membranes are too dry, make the pain worse.

Adding baking soda to the salt mixture is another popular recommendation. Baking soda neutralizes acid and inhibits the growth of yeast. The American Cancer Society, which recommends this for cancer patients experiencing mouth or throat pain, suggests mixing a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of warm water. As with salt, gargle, but don't swallow; too much soda can cause stomach issues.

If you can't stand salt or soda water, try plain, but keep gargling. One 2005 study split 387 healthy volunteers into three groups and asked the first to gargle three times a day with iodine-laced water and the second with plain water. The third group didn't gargle at all. At the end of 60 days, the group that gargled with plain water was 36% less likely to get sick.

Drink up

Stay hydrated to thin mucus secretions and soothe your irritated throat. Hot liquids such as tea and broth are good choices, because the warmth soothes pain. Broth-based chicken soup even has a tiny bit of science behind it.

One study in a lab Petri dish found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects, while another study of 15 people found that grandma's favorite remedy was better than hot or cold water at reducing mucus. A drainage of mucus, called post-nasal drip, is another common cause of sore throats.

Drinking very cold ice water or sucking on something cold may seem counterintuitive, but cold can numb the throat. But don't choose cold orange juice or other acid-based liquids; they will only intensify the pain.

You can also keep the throat moist by sucking on a piece of hard candy or, better yet, a medicated lozenge. The medicated lozenge will probably contain menthol or benzocaine, which have a numbing effect.

Add honey or herbs

Adding honey to your tea or other hot liquid may also help. Honey has known antimicrobial properties, which speed healing. Studies in children have shown that honey is better than popular over-the-counter cough suppressants and Benadryl for reducing nighttime coughs and sleeping problems.

Chamomile tea is a popular natural remedy due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and mild astringent qualities. It also has sedating effects and is often used as an anti-anxiety and sleep aid. A 1990 study found that inhaling steam with chamomile extract eased common cold symptoms, but experts say further research is needed to confirm those findings.

Peppermint tea is also said to be helpful for sore throats, due to its similarity to menthol. But there's little science behind those claims. Peppermint has mostly been studied as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

You'll also find suggestions on the internet to use apple cider vinegar to treat a sore throat, probably because of its antimicrobial characteristics. But the level of acid in vinegar is high -- about the same as stomach acid -- and might irritate rather than soothe.

Know the danger signs

If your sore throat is severe, meaning extremely painful, and is accompanied by a fever or swollen glands, you might have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor. The most common bacterial throat infection is strep throat, caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. It's highly contagious and can spread through a home or school quickly. Though adults certainly get strep, children between 5 and 15 are the most likely to develop strep and pass it along to family members.

To diagnose strep, your doctor will do a throat swab and, if positive for streptococcus, start you on a round of antibiotics, which you should finish. Don't rush back to work or school; you'll remain contagious for at least 24 hours after beginning the medication.

It's also important to treat strep because a lingering infection can lead to middle ear infections, kidney inflammation, scarlet fever and even toxic shock syndrome.

There's even a bizarre reaction that can happen in children with strep, called PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. Overnight, children will begin to exhibit obsessive-compulsive behavior, tics and severe tantrums that seem psychotic as their antibodies attack their brains and not the bacteria. Immediate treatment with antibiotics is key to preventing long-term damage.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65436

Reported Deaths: 1848
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5544117
DeSoto357430
Harrison240635
Madison239664
Rankin225132
Jackson222542
Jones185058
Forrest175855
Washington160640
Lauderdale139790
Lee138333
Neshoba128492
Lamar119214
Oktibbeha109638
Bolivar109333
Lowndes105837
Warren103332
Panola102612
Scott99520
Sunflower99224
Lafayette95615
Copiah94528
Leflore90762
Pike89635
Holmes87348
Grenada83821
Yazoo81512
Pontotoc8098
Lincoln79641
Leake78625
Simpson78630
Monroe76952
Wayne75321
Coahoma71511
Tate70527
Marshall6749
Marion64320
Winston61116
Adams61025
Covington61013
Union60116
George5494
Newton53711
Pearl River52937
Tallahatchie52210
Attala51525
Walthall49119
Chickasaw45019
Noxubee44811
Calhoun4079
Prentiss40310
Claiborne39813
Alcorn3975
Smith39713
Clay39214
Jasper3819
Hancock37314
Tishomingo3635
Itawamba34810
Tippah34213
Clarke32525
Tunica3226
Montgomery3153
Lawrence3127
Yalobusha31210
Humphreys28311
Carroll26011
Quitman2521
Greene23611
Jefferson Davis2286
Kemper22714
Amite2256
Webster22512
Perry2237
Wilkinson20113
Jefferson1946
Sharkey1944
Stone1864
Benton1420
Choctaw1314
Franklin1192
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12743242
Mobile9565206
Montgomery6521148
Madison525030
Tuscaloosa410371
Unassigned347461
Baldwin344323
Shelby320133
Marshall309034
Lee262844
Morgan233017
Etowah207530
DeKalb177113
Calhoun170413
Elmore169438
Walker150264
Houston136412
Russell13422
Dallas131123
St. Clair131016
Limestone128413
Franklin125820
Cullman120112
Colbert115613
Lauderdale113917
Autauga106521
Escambia105416
Talladega98613
Jackson9454
Tallapoosa84979
Chambers83538
Dale82323
Blount7743
Chilton7676
Butler75935
Coffee7475
Covington72620
Pike6907
Barbour5695
Lowndes56724
Marion56724
Marengo54614
Clarke4969
Hale46726
Bullock45411
Winston44411
Perry4364
Wilcox41810
Bibb4164
Monroe4154
Randolph39410
Pickens3849
Conecuh38210
Sumter36218
Lawrence3441
Macon33213
Washington32712
Crenshaw3133
Choctaw27912
Cherokee2637
Geneva2550
Henry2523
Greene25011
Clay2495
Lamar2172
Fayette1985
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 91°
Columbus
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Starkville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 86°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather