What Kills a Sore Throat Fast?

Medically Reviewed on 10/8/2021

Sore throat remedies

Sore throat, or pharyngitis, refers to pain, tenderness, or discomfort in the throat. It is most commonly caused by mild viral infections like the flu or common cold, but can also be a result of other health conditions. A sore throat typically appears with symptoms like cough, runny nose, dry/raspy sensation in the throat and mouth, and a hoarse voice. You may also experience difficulty and pain while swallowing foods or liquids.

Whether your sore throat is caused by a virus, acid reflux, or exposure to smoke, there are a number of home remedies that can bring you quick relief. Here are 10 ways to soothe the pain and irritation of a sore throat:

1. Saltwater gargles

Gargling with salt water reduces inflammation in the throat and eases symptoms of pain and abrasion. It loosens mucus and brings irritants to the surface of the throat where the body can eliminate them more quickly. Saltwater also has antibacterial properties and helps keep the throat clean. Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt in about eight ounces of water and gargle every two to three hours.

2. Herbal teas

Many different types of herbal tea can help relieve the scratchy feeling of a sore throat. Both green tea and clove tea have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can fight off infections. Fruit- or flower-based teas like raspberry and chamomile act as natural lubricants that can soothe the irritation in your throat. Peppermint tea is another great option for a sore throat, as it eases pain by numbing the throat.

3. Honey and lemon

A mixture of lemon juice and honey is packed with natural antibacterial and pain-relieving properties. Honey reduces swelling in the throat while lemon juice breaks up mucus and provides pain relief. Lemon also contains a lot of Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system to help wipe out the infection. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of honey to tea or hot water and sip away.

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is strongly acidic and is known to have powerful antimicrobial properties. It breaks down the mucus deposited in your throat and prevents the infection from spreading. Mix one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water and gargle. Be careful not to drink the mixture as it may cause digestive problems. Do not use this method if you have a known sensitivity to vinegar. 

5. Chicken soup

Chicken soup contains a large number of proteins, antioxidants, and amino acids that help your body fight off infection. It is also high in gelatin which soothes the back of the throat and reduces the pain of swallowing. Chicken broth made with garlic can be especially helpful in treating a sore throat. It keeps the throat hydrated, nourishes the body, and reduces nasal congestion.

6. Ginger root tea or ale

Ginger is very effective in reducing swelling and congestion in the throat, as it is a natural antihistamine. Ginger has a strong antiviral and antibacterial effect and breaks down excess mucus in the throat. Sip ginger ale made with real ginger or make your own fresh ginger tea at home.

7. Popsicles or extra-cold drinks

Although the first few sips or bites can be painful, the icy liquid can help numb your throat and ease inflammation. It works exactly like an ice pack and soothes the swelling in your throat. You could also suck on ice cubes or chips for the same effect. Avoid dairy-based ice cream as it can increase mucus production and worsen a sore throat.

8. Humidifiers

Dry air is harsh on the lungs and irritates the sore throat. This can increase the pain or tenderness in the throat and extend recovery time. Use a clean humidifier to bring some moisture into your room. This makes the air easier to breathe and helps open up congested sinuses. If your nose is severely stuffed, try inhaling steam from a safe distance.

9. Lymph node massage

Massaging the lymph nodes causes lymphatic drainage that can reduce the infection in the throat. This method is most likely to be effective if your lymph nodes already feel sensitive and tender to the touch. Locate the swollen lymph nodes at the side of the neck and rub them gently in a downward motion. This massage technique improves circulation and helps eliminate toxins from the throat.

10. Throat lozenges or hard candy

Over-the-counter (OTC) lozenges can quickly provide temporary relief from soreness in the throat. Sucking on lozenges or hard candy increases saliva production. The saliva lubricates the throat and keeps it from getting dry and scratchy. Most cough drops also contain ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus, and honey that help ease the pain.

Having a sore throat can be miserable but these simple home remedies are effective against the pain and discomfort. Make sure you get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to speed up recovery. It is not generally necessary to see a doctor for a mild case of sore throat. You could try taking OTC pain medications like ibuprofen or throat sprays with lidocaine to relieve the pain and tenderness. Get in touch with your healthcare provider if you have swollen tonsils, difficulty breathing, or a fever over 101 degrees in addition to the sore throat.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/8/2021
References
SOURCES:

Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine: "Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents."

British Medical Journal: "Herbal tea helps reduce the pain of acute pharyngitis."

Journal of ethnopharmacology: "Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines."

Medscape General Medicine: "Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect."

University of Pennsylvania Medicine: "6 At-Home Remedies to Ease Your Sore Throat."

U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus: "Chicken soup and sickness.", "Humidifiers and health."

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust: "How to do self-lymphatic massage on your head and neck."