What is a sore throat?

A sore throat is a soreness or discomfort in your throat that can be associated with many different illnesses or conditions. Some home remedies that can help a sore throat heal faster are saltwater gargle, lemon and honey, herbal teas, humidifiers, throat lozenges and hard candies.
A sore throat is a soreness or discomfort in your throat that can be associated with many different illnesses or conditions. Some home remedies that can help a sore throat heal faster are saltwater gargle, lemon and honey, herbal teas, humidifiers, throat lozenges and hard candies.

Nobody likes waking up with a sore throat. A sore throat, or pharyngitis, is one of the top reasons people call out sick from work or visit the doctor's office.

A sore throat is just what it sounds like — a soreness or discomfort inside your throat. It can be associated with many different illnesses or conditions, so a sore throat itself is typically only a symptom of a bigger concern. Depending on what’s causing your sore throat, a variety of approaches may help you find relief.

Main symptoms of a sore throat

A sore throat is a symptom of the common cold, along with allergies, upper respiratory illness, or strep throat. Sore throat pain from a virus typically appears with the following symptoms: 

When group A strep bacteria attacks your body, you'll likely notice some of the symptoms associated with a viral infection. However, strep throat symptoms develop much more quickly and include: 

Sometimes strep bacteria will cause a red rash that spreads across your body. This is called scarlet fever

There are many reasons you can develop a sore throat. Cold viruses or the flu can cause this condition, as can bacterial infections like strep throat. Other reasons include: 

QUESTION

Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

7 at-home remedies for a sore throat

If your sore throat is the result of a virus, you'll need to rest and let your body heal.  

Here are seven more things you can do at home to soothe the pain: 

Saltwater gargle

Saltwater may not provide instant relief, but it's a way to kill bacteria, loosen mucus, and ease the pain. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water, gargle, and spit. 

Honey and lemon

Honey has antibacterial properties and helps reduce inflammation. It also acts as a natural cough suppressant. Lemon juice breaks up mucus and contains immunity-boosting vitamin C to fight your infection. Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of honey. Add it to a cup of tea or hot water, stir well, and sip away.  

Herbal tea

Some herbs help heal a sore throat. Three good options for relieving inflammation and pain are: 

  • Chamomile 
  • Raspberry
  • Peppermint 

Humidifier 

Dry air is harsh on the throat and lungs, especially during the winter months. A humidifier will open your sinuses and keep the air in your room moist, making it easier to breathe. 

Lozenges or hard candies

Sucking on a throat lozenge or candy helps produce saliva which can soothe your sore throat by keeping it from drying out. 

Throat spray 

A throat spray with numbing agents like lidocaine or even an herbal mixture of echinacea and sage can relieve a scratchy throat. Spray your throat liberally a few times a day. 

Over-the-counter pain medications

Over-the-counter pain medications, like or ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can also help alleviate throat pain and body aches.

Risks and outlook for a sore throat

Sore throat pain associated with a virus is typically mild, lasts for a few days, and responds well to at-home treatment. If you have untreated strep throat or a condition like tonsilitis, you may have throat pain for much longer.

When to see your doctor

If your sore throat is severe, you have a rash, swollen tonsils, or a fever over 101 degrees that lasts for longer than a day, it's time to make an appointment with your doctor. It's likely strep or another bacterial infection. In this situation, you'll typically be prescribed antibiotics and can continue the at-home remedies to soothe your throat pain.

SLIDESHOW

A Cold or The Flu? How to Tell the Difference See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 2/25/2021
References
American Osteopathic Association: "Sore Throat."

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: "Sore Throat | Community | Antibiotic Use."

News in Health: "Soothing a Sore Throat."

Penn Medicine: "6 At-Home Remedies to Ease Your Sore Throat."