Sore throats are a complete drag. It’s the one ailment I get questioned about almost on a daily basis during cough & cold season, and most don’t like my answer since there’s not a magic pill to cure it. Fortunately there are lots of home remedies that have been used for decades that actually help. An achy, scratchy, sore throat usually has an underlying cause and heals as the cause of the sore throat gets better. Usually the throat gets inflamed because of one of three things- either from sinus drainage due to an allergy or virus, a bacterial infection, or from a dry throat which often happens from open mouth sleeping.
Keeping the nasal passages clear is one way to prevent getting a sore throat. using a neti-pot once or twice a day is a great non-pharmacologic way to do this. To help keep the throat moist (ugh I can’t even believe I just used the word moist), using a cool mist humidifier while sleeping works wonders. Resting the throat, while common sense, is often forgotten. If your throat hurts, try not to strain it even more. Cancel your meetings and stay off the phone.
One technique underutilized, and one which people forget about, is gargling. Your grandmother probably at one point made you gargle with warm salt water (insert gag here), and turns out your grandmother probably knew what she was doing for you! The warm salt water will help with inflammation as well as thin any mucous in the throat. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoonful of salt in 4-6 ounces of water and gargle every 3 hours. Another gargle, for the uber-daring, is a turmeric gargle. Turmeric has gotten a lot of hype lately for reducing inflammation. It’s something that has been used in India for thousands of years. Mix 1/2 teaspoonful turmeric and 1/2 teaspoonful salt with a cup of warm water and gargle twice daily. A third gargle that can be used, especially if there is a bacterial infection involved, is with sage. Sage is considered a wonder herb in native american culture. It has great antiseptic properties. Make a concentrated sage tea by boiling 10-15 crushed leaves with a cup of water. Let it cool until you can comfortably take a sip. Gargle with this up to three times a day.
Besides gargles, or if you’re not into the gargling, drinking warm tea with honey and lemon is very soothing. Honey has natural antibacterial properties, and the warmth from the tea is a calming treat. Traditional Medicinals has a fantastic tea called Throat Coat. Its a blend of slippery elm bark, marshmallow, and licorice. I highly recommend.
If you insist on taking medication, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used, but with caution. As with any cold related ailment, drink plenty of fluid and rest.
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