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8 Home Remedies for a Sore Throat

Got a sore throat? You likely have a viral infection. Only time can cure the virus, but there are plenty of home remedies for sore throat pain.

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1. Over-the-counter painkillers

The easiest home remedy for sore throat pain simply involves reaching into your medicine cabinet. Take 100 milligrams of acetaminophen, 750 milligrams of aspirin, 400 milligrams of ibuprofen or 225 milligrams of Aleve. They’ll relieve sore throat pain and (with the exception of the acetaminophen) reduce swelling.

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2. Saltwater gargle

To relieve sore throat pain, mix 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of salt in 1 cup (250 mL) of warm water until dissolved, then gargle. Gargling with salt water remains one of the simplest, most effective remedies for a sore throat. The warmth increases blood flow to the throat, which helps fight infection, and the salt washes away dead cells. 

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3. Slippery elm

Suck on an herbal throat lozenge that contains slippery elm (pictured here). Slippery elm coats mucous membranes like those in the throat. If this doesn’t work, try a lozenge containing benzocaine, which will temporarily numb the pain.

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4. Warm chamomile tea

Chamomile fights inflammation and even acts as a mild sedative. Make a double-strength tea by steeping 2 tea bags in 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water. Gargle with and sip the tea. Add honey for more relief from sore throat pain.

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5. Herbal throat sprays

These sprays, such as Singer’s Saving Grace, contain a variety of throat-soothing ingredients. Formulas may include soothing and anti-inflammatory herbs such as chamomile and licorice, throat-coating herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow, glycerin (a natural vegetable-based lubricant) or honey (an antiseptic that also coats the throat and draws and retains moisture-a good thing if you have a dry, scratchy, sore throat). Spray into the mouth 2 or 3 times every 1 to 4 hours.

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6. Humidifier

Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier reduces throat dryness, which helps relieve pain. 

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7. Lemon and honey

Sip hot water mixed with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of lemon juice and a bit of honey. The acidity of the lemon juice encourages production of saliva, bathing the throat. The honey pulls moisture from swollen throat tissue. 

Learn how to brew your own cough-taming teas!

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8. Heating pad

Apply a heating pad to the throat or wrap the throat in warm flannel (put it in the dryer for 5 minutes or microwave for 30 seconds) or a towel dipped in hot water and wrung out. The heat increases blood flow, relieving pain.

Check out more healthy home remedies!

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