Having a sore throat may bring on more anxiety these days, but it doesn’t always warrant a trip to the doctor’s office. Sore throats can accompany a lot of different non-emergency conditions, including the common cold, seasonal allergies, acid reflux or simply dry air.
Regardless, sore throats can be painful and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are several things you can do right at home that can help ease the ache without medication or antibiotics.
Here are 11 natural remedies for a sore throat you can try the next time you get that unpleasant tickle.
1. Gargle With Salt Water
A salt water gargle should always be your first go-to for a sore throat, Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
“Salt water gargles are really wonderful for clearing out mucus, viruses and bacteria,” Dr. Mehdizadeh says.
Gargling salt water is like a physical irrigation to help remove the pathogens that may be causing the sore throat, as well as a way to soothe inflammation, he says.
Indeed, a salt water gargle has been found to help reduce the viral load in people with upper respiratory infections, according to an August 2020 study in Public Health. In fact, the study found that using a salt water gargle within 48 hours of symptom onset reduced the average length of a viral illness by almost two days.
To make a salt water gargle, mix one cup of warm water with one-half teaspoon of salt. Take a sip, then gargle the mixture for four to five seconds before spitting it out. Repeat until the cup of salt water is gone.
You can use regular table salt, says Dr. Mehdizadeh, because the important aspect of the mixture is the salinity, which can clear debris and kill off bacteria and viruses. “You want the liquid to be a little cloudy, but not too salty that it’s uncomfortable and will make you gag,” he notes.
Both adults and children as young as 5 who are able to complete the gargle without swallowing the mixture can use this strategy.
Although gargling can be an effective way to deal with a sore throat, stick to salt water — Dr. Mehdizadeh does not recommend gargling with any type of antiseptic, such as hydrogen peroxide or beta iodine. Both are meant for topical use only and could actually inflame a sore throat even more.
Nasal irrigations are incredibly useful for helping to clear your respiratory tract, and they can be used as often as you need, provided you use the right concentration of solution.
Both actual seawater and commercial saline solutions are helpful…