What causes sore throats?
1. Viral infections
Sore throats are normally caused by viruses like colds or the flu, and your body’s immune system will usually take around five to seven days to clear it up.1 Usually, antibiotics aren’t prescribed to treat sore throats because they are ineffective against viruses – and your body will need to let the cold or flu run its course. Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics if your sore throat is the result of a bacterial infection.3
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether your sore throat is caused by an infection or a case of pesky allergies, especially if it’s during allergy season. Allergies to pet dander, molds, dust and pollen can also be the cause of your sore throat.2 Stepping away from the source of the reaction can minimize some effects, but a sore throat from allergies can still be quite bothersome.
3. Dry air
Your throat can feel irritated in spaces where there’s less moisture in the air. Air that is dry is typically colder and less humid. Additionally, you can get a sore throat if you are breathing through your mouth more frequently due to chronic nasal congestion.2
4. Drinking alcohol
Alcohol can cause sore throats for a number of reasons. One of the more obvious reasons is that alcohol is extremely dehydrating, which can lead to a sore throat more quickly. Alcohol is also a very drying substance on your skin and can sometimes leave a burning feeling in your throat after consuming, which can affect your throat as well. Another way that alcohol can cause a sore throat is because alcohol disrupts immune pathways, and these disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend itself against infection.8 The more prone you are to infection, the more likely you are to get a sore throat.
5. Straining throat muscles
It’s natural to want to yell during an exciting sports game or a concert, but a sore throat can often follow after using your voice too much. You can strain muscles in your throat by yelling, talking loudly or talking for a long time.2
Whatever the cause, you shouldn’t have to suffer with a sore throat. There are many ways to relieve the painful and bothersome symptoms to help you feel better in the meantime.
How to get sore throat relief at home
1. Gargle with salt water
Did you know that gargling with salt water can help provide relief from sore throat pain? The combination of salt and water helps to soothe swelling and irritation in a dry and sore throat.5
We recommend combining 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with a glass of warm water. Then, leave the solution to dissolve before gargling it for a few seconds in your mouth and spitting it out when finished. You can repeat this method throughout the day and night as often as needed.1
2. Add lemon and honey to warm water
The age-old method of drinking warm water mixed with lemon and honey is a sure-fire way to soothe a sore throat.
Lemon contains vitamin C, which supports the body’s immune system and break up any mucus in your throat. Honey, on the other hand, has antibacterial properties and can help to suppress coughs by calming the throat’s nerve endings, which has a soothing effect. Try adding a wedge of squeezed lemon and a tablespoon of honey to your next cup of warm water to reap the benefits.5
Lemon contains vitamin C, which supports the body’s immune system and break up any mucus in your throat.
3. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated and keeping your fluids up is one of the best ways to help soothe a sore throat – but if you’re wondering what’s best to drink, you have plenty of options.1 A glass of water, juice, tea, or even a bowl of soup will all help you to stay hydrated while you recover. Warm liquids may also help to reduce your symptoms by soothing the back of the throat.5
4. Try some medicated lozenges
Did you know that over-the-counter sore throat lozenges can increase your saliva production? Sucking on these will help to keep your throat lubricated and relieve symptoms such as dryness or irritation – but be sure to keep lozenges away from children under four years old, as they may pose a choking risk.4
5. Use a humidifier
Breathing in dry air can further irritate a sore throat, so to relieve these symptoms, it may be worth investing in a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. Alternatively, you could try taking a warm, relaxing bath or shower and breathe in the steam in your bathroom.4
Breathing in dry air can further irritate a sore throat, so to relieve these symptoms, it may be worth investing in a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.
6. Drink herbal teas
Drinking herbal tea can help soothe a sore throat and, because it’s a fluid, reduce your risk of dehydration. There are many herbal teas which are known to have a variety of health benefits and may be useful for easing the symptoms of a cough and sore throat.
Green tea, chamomile tea and peppermint tea can all help to reduce inflammation and swelling. Chamomile tea in particular has been shown to be a natural lubricant, so if you are experience a hoarse or croaky voice, this may be a good option. Peppermint tea also has numbing properties to help alleviate your pain.6
7. Stop smoking
Try to limit smoking cigarettes if you are a smoker, as smoking can make your throat hurt more. If you are not a smoker, avoid smoke whenever possible. Not only is cigarette smoke bad for your general health, it can also irritate your throat.5
8. Try Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat Hot Liquid Powder
While there are many natural remedies you can try at home, you may also want to consider Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat Hot Liquid Powder to relieve cold and flu symptoms, including a sore throat. Its apple cinnamon flavor tastes great and it temporarily relieves your worst symptoms of cold and flu.
If the symptoms of your sore throat or nasal congestion do not disappear after seven days or get worse, stop use and consult a professional healthcare provider for advice. If your sore throat is severe, persists for more than two days, is accompanied or followed by a fever, headache, rash, nausea or vomiting, consult a doctor right away.
- Sore throat. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-throat/. Accessed 11/03/20.
- Sore throat (Symptoms & causes). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635. Accessed 06/10/2021.
- Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/antibioticuse/index.html. Accessed 11/03/20.
- Sore throat (Diagnosis & treatment). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351640. Accessed 11/03/20.
- Sore Throat Remedies that Actually Work. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sore-throat-remedies-that-actually-work/. Accessed 11/03/20.
- 6 At-Home Remedies to Ease Your Sore Throat. Penn Medicine. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2018/february/sore-throat. Accessed 11/03/20.
- Soothing a sore throat. National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/03/soothing-sore-throat.. Accessed 11/03/20
- Alcohol and the Immune System. National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/ Accessed 06/10/2021.