A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold, the side effect of strained vocal cords, or an indication of something more serious (like strep throat).
Regardless of the cause, your immediate concern when it strikes is how to relieve it - fast.
While you might be tempted to run to the doctor, some of the best treatments are home remedies, according to Jeffrey Linder, an internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Here are four remedies you can try the next time your throat feels scratchy, hoarse or sore…
Four home remedies to treat a sore throat
#1: Gargle saltwater
Several studies have found that gargling several times a day with warm salt water can reduce swelling in your throat. It can also loosen mucus and help flush out bacteria and other irritants.
Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water and gargle for 10 seconds. If the salty taste is too unpleasant for you, add a drizzle of honey to sweeten the mixture slightly.
#2: Up your fluid intake
Dr Linder points out that it’s important you stay hydrated, especially when you have an irritated or inflamed throat. “You should be drinking enough fluid so that your urine is light yellow or clear. This keeps your mucous membranes moist and better able to combat bacteria and irritants like allergens. It also makes your body better able to fight back against other cold symptoms
,” he explains.
What you drink is up to you. Water (especially with ice cubes) always works, but don’t be afraid to change it up. Try something slightly sugary like fruit juice, or something salty like chicken soup or broth.
#3: Eat marshmallows
Although there’s no hard evidence that this works, people have been using sap from the marshmallow plant for hundreds of years (especially in tea form) to treat coughs, sore throats and cold
According to anecdotal reports, modern-day mallows can help you ease your sore throat, possibly because the gelatine coats and soothes the throat.
“It’s not the wackiest thing in the world,” Dr Linder says. “If your throat is really swollen and it really hurts to swallow anything, I can see how something slippery and sweet like marshmallows might provide some relief.”
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#4: Get some rest
It might not be the quickest solution, but getting rest is the best thing you can do to battle the infection that caused your sore throat in the first place, Dr Linder says.
“The vast majority of sore throats are caused by cold
viruses, and we know that there’s very little we can do to cure a cold once we’ve got it,” he explains. “Making sure your body is well rested will at least help it fight off the virus so you can get better sooner.”
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