Try heading a a sore throat off at the pass at the onset of a cold. Trying to avoid getting a sore throat may help lessen its effect or prevent it entirely. Try the following home remedies to keep a sore throat at bay:
Keep your nasal passages clear. Doctors agree that two of the most common causes of sore-throat pain are postnasal drip and a dry throat that results from sleeping with your mouth open when your nasal passages are blocked. Decongestants, especially those containing pseudoephedrine (read package labels), may be helpful in stopping the flow; follow package directions carefully. Using saline nasal spray can help make breathing easier promptly though temporarily, and it's probably worth investing in a humidifier to run in your bedroom at night.
Rest and take it easy. Common sense dictates staying in bed or at least resting when a sore throat's got you down. Taking it easy leaves more energy to fight the infection.
If your sore throat doesn't require medical attention, it may be helped by a home remedy, using products such as mouthwash or throat spray or kitchen items such as tea. Try the suggestions below to relieve throat pain.
Home Remedies from the Kitchen
Gargle raspberry tea. Raspberry leaf tea can make a great gargle. (To make, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons dried leaves. Steep for ten minutes, then strain. Allow to cool.) If you also have a fever, the gargle can be used as a fever-reducing drink, too. Do not drink any liquid you have used as a gargle.
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Raspberry leaf tea is great to gargle for a sore throat
and can be used as a fever-reducing drink, too.
Drink cider vinegar. This sore throat cure is found in several different remedies. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
For sipping: Mix 1 tablespoon each of honey and cider vinegar in 1 cup warm water.
For gargling: You'll need 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, and 1 cup warm water. Dissolve the salt in the vinegar, then mix in the water. Gargle every 15 minutes as necessary.
Make a horseradish cocktail. Try this Russian sore-throat cure. Combine 1 tablespoon pure horseradish or horseradish root with 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon ground cloves. Mix in a glass of warm water and drink slowly.
Sip lemon juice. Mix 1 tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice in 1 cup warm water. Sip this mixture.
Drink lime juice. Combine 1 spoonful with a spoonful of honey and take as often as needed for a sore throat.
Gargle with warm salt water. If you can gargle without gagging, make a saline solution by adding 1/2 teaspoon salt to a cup of very warm water. Yes, when your mother told you to gargle with salt water, she knew what she was talking about. It cuts phlegm and reduces inflammation. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1/2 cup warm water, and gargle every three to four hours.
Eat a juice bar. This is cold and soothing to a hot throat. Don't suck, though. Sucking may irritate the throat even more. Simply let small pieces melt in your mouth.
Drink hot liquids. Especially if you're not good at gargling, drink hot fluids, such as coffee, tea, or hot lemonade. Coating the tissue in your throat with warm liquid provides a benefit similar to applying hot packs to infected skin. (And sipping hot tea is more pleasant than trying to swallow a hot pack.)
Suck on hard candy. Think of a sore throat as an excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, since some doctors say that sugar can help soothe a sore throat, as well as the ticklish cough that may come with it. If nothing else, sucking on hard candy -- in the sugar-free variety -- can help keep your mouth and throat moist, which will make you feel more comfortable.
Steam it out. One old-fashioned remedy for a cold or sore throat is a steam tent -- sitting with your face over a bowl of steaming hot water and your head covered with a towel to keep the steam in. Adding 1 to 2 drops eucalyptus oil can be soothing. While it's easy to dismiss such a simple measure as an old wives' tale, several scientific studies have shown that steaming can actually shorten the duration of a throat infection.
Keep the fluids coming. Drink as much fluid as possible -- at least eight to ten 8-ounce glasses per day. Keeping your throat well lubricated with soothing liquids can prevent it from becoming dry and irritated and may even help banish the infection faster.
Home Remedies from the Spice Rack
Suck on garlic. This Amish remedy can treat or prevent sore throats. Peel a fresh clove, slice it in half, and place 1 piece in each cheek. Suck on the garlic like a cough drop. Occasionally, crush your teeth against the garlic, not to bite it in half, but to release its allicin, a chemical that can kill the bacteria that causes strep.
Make a marjoram drink. Make a soothing tea with a spoonful of marjoram steeped in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Strain, then sweeten to taste with honey.
Gargle with sage. This curative herb is a great sore-throat gargle. Mix 1 teaspoon in 1 cup boiling water. Steep for ten minutes, then strain. Add 1 teaspoon each cider vinegar and honey, then gargle four times a day.
Gargle turmeric. Try this gargle to calm a cranky throat. Mix together 1 cup hot water, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gargle with the mixture twice a day. If you're not good with the gargle, mix 1/2 teaspoon turmeric in 1 cup hot milk and drink. Turmeric stains clothing, so be careful when mixing and gargling.
Home Remedies from the Medicine Cabinet
Gargle with Listerine. Another good gargling fluid is Listerine mouthwash. If you share the product with anyone else in your household, don't drink straight from the bottle; instead, pour a small amount into a cup (and don't share that, either).
Take an analgesic. Plain old aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can do wonders for sore-throat pain. However, aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 19 because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal condition. Pregnant and nursing women should check with their doctor before taking any medication. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here.
Spray it. Analgesic sprays, such as Chloraseptic, may be effective in temporarily relieving sore-throat pain. The only problem is that the effect doesn't last long. You may have to spray several times an hour. However, the sprays won't harm you and may take the edge off an extremely painful throat.
Also, when treating a sore throat, nix the colas and scratchy foods, such as chips and pretzels. They'll irritate an already irritated throat -- which hopefully one of the above home remedies will cure!
An Old-Fashioned Sore-Throat Tonic
The following was extracted from a book of home remedies published more than 130 years ago. Some doctors still swear that it is surprisingly palatable and works wonders. (Do not give it -- or any other honey-containing food or beverage -- to children under two years of age. Honey can carry a bacterium that can cause a kind of food poisoning called infant botulism and may also cause allergic reactions in very young children.)
1 tablespoon honey, any kind
1 tablespoon vinegar, preferably apple-cider vinegar
8 ounces hot water
Mix all the ingredients together in a mug and sip slowly (but don't let it get cold). Use as often as desired.