Winter Wars: How to Battle that Irritating Sore Throat

Not only does a sore throat affect your wellness all by itself, but it can indicate other health concerns such as a cold, a side effect of strained vocal cords, or something more serious (like strep throat). However, there are plenty of home remedies and over-the-counter meds that can help you to look after your wellbeing when soreness strikes:


1. Anti-inflammatories: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available over-the-counter and you’ve probably already got some in your medicine cabinet. According to Jeffrey Linder, MD, an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve ‘are combination pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, so they’ll make you feel better and they’ll also reduce some of the swelling associated with a sore throat. If you have a fever that’s also contributing to your symptoms, they can help reduce that as well.’


2. Fluids: Dr. Linder explains, ‘Staying hydrated is very important, especially when you’re sick and your throat is irritated or inflamed. You should be drinking enough fluid so that your urine is light yellow or clear. This keeps your mucous membranes moist and better able to combat bacteria and irritants like allergens, and makes your body better able to fight back against other cold symptoms.’ If you get tired of drinking water – although it is a classic choice – you can try a warm cup of herbal tea for immediate, soothing relief. Aside from the fact that they tick the “fluids” box, non-herbal teas—whether they’re made with black, green, or white leaves—contain antioxidants that are thought to strengthen immunity and ward off infection.


3. Chicken soup: As well as being a much-needed fluid, chicken soup has bonus properties that help in dealing with a sore throat. Dr. Linder comments, ‘The sodium in the broth may actually have anti-inflammatory properties, and it can feel good going down.’ This is especially important, as eating can be painful or difficult when your throat is sore or swollen, and so having a liquid lunch (not that kind) will help to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to fight off your infection.


4. Marshmallows: This tip is a little lacking in hard evidence, but people have been using the sap from marshmallows for centuries – usually in tea form – to treat their coughs, colds and sore throats. When it comes to the modern-day varieties you put on a stick around a campfire, anecdotal reports assert that marshmallows still ease throat soreness, possibly due to the fact that they contain gelatin, and this coats and soothes your throat. Dr. Linder comments, ‘It’s not the wackiest thing in the world. If your throat is really swollen and it really hurts to swallow anything, I can see how something slippery and sweet like marshmallows might provide some relief.’


5. Rest: While this isn’t the speediest solution on this list, rest is probably the best thing for your throat, as it helps you fight the infection that’s actually causing the soreness. Dr. Linder notes, ‘The vast majority of sore throats are caused by cold viruses, and we know that there’s very little we can do to cure a cold once we’ve got it. Making sure your body is well rested will at least help it fight off the virus so you can get better sooner.’


6. Saltwater gargle: A lot of research suggests that gargling with warm salt water several times a day can help to reduce swelling in your throat and loosen mucus. This, in turn, helps to flush out irritants and bacteria. While doctors recommend dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water, you can always add a bit of honey if the salty taste is too unpleasant – just remember to spit the water out after gargling!

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