How to Get Rid of a Sore Throat

If you have a sore throat, it’s quite likely you have a viral infection. Since only time can cure the virus, our self-help approaches focus on easing the pain.

How to Get Rid of a Sore Throat

Sore Throat Treatment

For fast relief of throat pain, rest your voice and do the following.

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon salt in 1 cup warm water until dissolved, then gargle.
  2. Suck on an herbal throat lozenge that contains slippery elm. One brand is Thayer.
  3. Take 100 milligrams Tylenol, 750 milligrams aspirin, 400 milligrams ibuprofen, or 225 milligrams Aleve.

Why It Works

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. Boost your gargle with a squeeze of lemon, which shrinks swollen throat tissue.

Slippery elm coats mucous membranes like those in the throat. The painkillers relieve pain and, except for the Tylenol, reduce swelling.

Other Medicines

Herbs and Supplements

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 boiling water. Gargle with and sip the tea. Add honey for more relief.

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 throat). Spray into the mouth two or three times every one to four hours.

Throat Coat. This clinically tested herbal tea contains slippery elm, marshmallow, and other throat-soothing herbs.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

Lozenges containing benzocaine. These temporarily numb the pain.

Other Approaches

Humidifier. Adding moisture to the air reduces throat dryness, which helps relieve pain.

Lemon and honey. Sip hot water mixed with 1 teaspoon 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.

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