Home Remedies for Sore Throat
Some of the home remedies for sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, include gargling, the consumption of garlic, cinnamon, horehound, slippery elm, mango bark extract, ginger, holy basil, inhaling water vapor, echinacea, and black peppercorn. Apart from these, you should avoid smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol consumption, eating sour foods, and exerting pressure on the voice box for quick recovery.
Experienced by thousands of people every day, sore throats are the most common physical ailment diagnosed. Constantly influenced by pollutants, bacteria, and viruses present in contaminated air, the throat is often vulnerable to this annoying ailment. With the steady increase in pollution levels every day, it has become a very common ailment.
Sore throats are indicated by an irritating and burning sensation in the throat, causing difficulty and pain in swallowing. This unavoidable (irritating) pain during swallowing and talking causes inconvenient interruptions to many daily activities. Most cases of sore throat occur during the colder months.
Causes of Sore Throat
Sore throat is caused by a foreign virus or bacteria that induces an infection on the pharynx, which is the tube behind the throat between the tonsils and the voice box (larynx). This results in the inflammation of the pharynx, leading to the irritation that signifies this condition.
Viral Infections: Viral infections like colds and the flu are common causes of sore throats. Some distinct viruses, such as coxsackie infection or mononucleosis, also cause sore throat.
Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections may also cause sore throats. Bacteria such as Streptococcus and Arcanobacterium heamolyticum are generally responsible.
Infected Tonsils, Adenoids and Epiglottis: Sometimes bacterial infections lead to inflammation of the tonsils, adenoids, and epiglottis, which can also be responsible for sore throats.
Gastroesophageal Reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause sore throats. Belches from the stomach can also push stomach acids to reach the esophagus and damage the inner lining of the throat, thereby causing sore throats.
Irritants: Irritants such as smoking, pollution, low humidity, and in some cases food allergies, can also irritate the throat, thereby causing sore throats.
Therapeutic Complications: In some cases, one of the side effects for therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy could be the development of a sore throat.
Viruses can even produce blisters in the throat and mouth. However, more commonly, throat irritation is caused due to smoking, dry heat, post nasal drip or an allergic reaction. Less often, sore throats are due to bacterial infections. Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis include conrebacterium, gonorrhea, or chlamydia.
Symptoms of Sore Throats
The main indicator of a sore throat is, quite obviously, a sore throat.
Other symptoms of sore throats include:
Fever and Headache: If the sore throat is a result of an existing cold, fever and headaches are some of the symptoms that accompany the condition.
Joint Pain: Joint pain and muscle aches are some of the weaknesses that are caused by pharyngitis.
Skin Rashes: A skin rash that appears in conjunction with a strep throat problem is a symptom of Scarlet Fever.
Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Neck: Irritations prevalent in the throat can cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck. This is commonly known as lymphadenopathy.
Complications may include ear infections, mastoiditis, sinusitis, peritonsillar, and abcesses.
Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat
Strep throat is one of the many possible causes of sore throat or an infection in the throat. Mostly common in children between 5 years and 15 years of age, strep throat is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat causes inflammation of the tonsils, larynx, and pharynx, whereas sore throats affect only the pharynx. Strep throat symptoms include fever, swollen nymph nodes, and swelling of the throat and tonsils. White or yellow patches on the tonsils are also present. Strep throat may lead to rheumatic or scarlet fever and thus, requires immediate medical attention.
Antibiotics are effective in reducing complications and speeding the recovery only in the case of strep throat. It doesn’t help in the recovery of ordinary sore throats.
Home Remedies for Sore Throats
Sore throats can be easily tackled by the effective implementation of home remedies. These remedies help provide instant relief and also help speed recovery.
Solutions for Sore Throat (Do’s)
Gargling: This is the oldest trick in the book – the old-fashioned saltwater gargle. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water, gargle, and spit it out. Repeat this process up to four times a day. Salt acts as a mild antiseptic that draws the water out of the mucous membranes and helps clear the phlegm as well. It also helps in making the immune system more effective. Alternatively, gargle with a baking soda solution. Dissolve half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of warm water and drink a few times a day.
Inhaling Water Vapor: With the help of a humidifier or a vaporizer, take deep breaths of steam. You can also try leaning over a sink with the hot water running. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam. Do this for 10-15 minutes every day. This helps clear the whole throat area. Think of it as a car wash for your throat!
Nutrition: A healthy diet that encompasses all the essential nutrients should be consumed. The obvious supplement candidates are vitamin C and vitamin E, the minerals zinc and magnesium, and immune-boosting vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower. This helps curb body weaknesses and speeds up the recovery process.
Hydration: Sore throats may be accompanied by fever, which can also lead to dehydration. It is essential to consume a large amount of water or fluids to hydrate the body.
Honey: Honey has been a sore-throat remedy for countless generations. It has antibacterial properties and it also acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissues. Honey intake reduces the swelling and discomfort in the throat. Add honey to 1 cup of hot water or herbal tea for better results.
Honey with Lemon: Fill a teaspoon halfway with honey, and then squeeze a lemon on top until the spoon is full. Now, add a little pepper on it and suck slowly. This combination has a soothing effect on the throat.
Horehound: This herb reduces the swelling of the throat tissues. Horehound has been used as a traditional cure for sore throat for many years and is very effective against it. Take a few teaspoons of the herb and boil it in 1 or 2 cups of water for 10 minutes, strain, and drink.
Slippery Elm: Slippery elm has been used as an herbal remedy for wounds, ulcers, boils, burns, and skin inflammation for centuries. It contains mucilage, which forms a coating over the throat and provides the much needed relief from sore throats. Take 2 teaspoons of the inner bark with 2 cups of water. Boil it, strain it, and drink the mixture at least twice a day for a few days up to a week. Use of slippery elm (bark, un-powdered) is banned/restricted by some countries such as UK so consult your local health specialist before use.
Marshmallow Root: The leaves and roots of marshmallow herb contain mucilage, which is helpful in treating colds and sore throats. Steep 2 teaspoons of herbs in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, strain, and drink. Perform this routine 3-4 times a day.
Echinacea: Echinacea is known to be an immune-stimulator and improves immunity to ward off infection. This herb’s antibacterial and antiviral properties will help speed up recovery from sore throats.
Garlic: Garlic has been used in domestic treatments for the common cold and associated symptoms for hundreds of years. It is believed that dried garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which help in fighting off infections. Garlic is used for sore throat treatment as well. It is consumed directly by chewing a few cloves.
Mango Bark: Mango bark helps soothe sore throats as well as curing other illnesses. You need to extract the fluid of the bark, which is then ground and applied to the neck. It can also be used for gargling after diluting 10 ml of fluid in 125 ml of water.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Coarsely powdered cinnamon can be added to a glass of water, along with two tablespoons of honey and a pinch of ground pepper, and then boiled. This too, is a good remedy of sore throat.
Black Peppercorn: Take half a teaspoon of black peppercorn seeds and pulverize them into powder. Mix this powder with hot milk and consume it early in the morning before breakfast or any other food in your stomach. This can be practiced for few days to get relief from sore throat. An alternative is to mix the peppercorn powder in warm water and gargle it early in the morning. This is one of the quickest and most effective home remedies for sore throat.
Holy Basil: Add a few basil leaves to water and boil it. Drink this mixture several times throughout the day. This will give relief from sore throats.
Ginger: Drinking a concoction of hot water with ginger, lemon, and honey can provide relief from sore throats very quickly.
Avoid smoking: Smoking worsens the condition of the walls of the throat. The irritation is intensified because of the smoke entering the throat on the way to the lungs.
Avoid Chewing Tobacco: Chewing tobacco also irritates the walls of the throat and worsens the condition of a sore throat. For speedy recovery, it is essential to avoid chewing tobacco.
Avoid Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption has also been associated with sore throats. Alcohol seems to provide relief, but actually does more harm than good. Alcohol dries out the tissues and worsens the condition.
Relax the Voice Box: To avoid strain to your throat, try resting your voice for a while. This helps relax the throat and speeds recovery.
‘Sore’ food: Avoid fried/spicy food. Whilst suffering from a sore throat, many types of food can be consumed to soothe or ease pain to the throat. Fluids are especially effective. Ice cream helps provide a numbing effect that eases the irritation as well.
If the sore throat lasts for a week or longer, check with your doctor. A persistent sore throat could be a sign of acid reflux, mononucleosis, Strep throat, or in a worst case scenario, AIDS.