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How to Cure a Sore Throat

Updated on December 5, 2012

Soothing a Sore Throat

Suffering from the flu or the common cold is already a big nuisance, but things can get worse when it is accompanied by a sore throat. Your throat feels scratchy and you experience difficulty while swallowing. Sometimes, the pain can be so intense that you refuse to eat completely. Even talking can be a challenge. The good news is that you can cure a sore throat by yourself at home. Sore throat and other symptoms that may accompany it usually resolve on their own within a week. But before you learn how to relieve a sore throat, it is first important to understand what causes it.

What Causes a Sore Throat?

The most common cause of sore throat is a viral infection. This is why you often get a sore throat when you have the common cold or the flu. Other viral illnesses that may lead to sore throat include measles and chickenpox.

The less common cause of sore throat is a bacterial infection. This type of sore throat is usually worse compared to one due to a virus. A trip to the doctor is highly recommended in this situation and antibiotic drugs may be necessary.

Sore throat can also be caused by allergies, acid reflux, dry air, and irritants such as smoke and dust.

How to Cure a Sore Throat Fast

1. Gargle with salt water.

Salt water can help soothe your throat. Add 1 tsp. of table salt to 240mL warm water, and then gargle the solution. Do this every couple of hours. If you have postnasal drip, it may be necessary to gargle more often to ease the discomfort.

2. Drink plenty of water.

Your sore throat can become worse if you are dehydrated. Keep your throat moist by drinking a lot of fluids throughout the day. If you do not feel pain while swallowing, you can also eat fruits with high water content such as watermelon.

3. Use lozenges.

There are throat lozenges available on the market that can help cure a sore throat. You can also suck hard sweets or ice cubes. Be careful though, as these are choking hazards for young children. Do not give lozenges to children under the age of four.

4. Install a humidifier.

Dry air is a common cause of sore throat. Increase the amount of moisture in the air by installing a humidifier. This helps prevent your throat from getting further irritated. Make sure that you do not let your room become too damp. Also remember to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid bacteria buildup.

5. Try steaming.

There are cases when breathing can become difficult when you have a sore throat. A simple remedy to this is to boil water in a pan then place it on a table or the floor. Position yourself so that the steam goes up and warms your face. This will help clear your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe easier.

6. Use a decongestant.

Decongestants can also be used when you are experiencing breathing difficulties. It shrinks the swollen mucous membranes, making room for air to pass through. Practice caution, though, as decongestants, especially oral ones, are known to cause side effects. It is suggested to check with your doctor first before trying these sore throat treatments.

7. Treat other conditions.

Remember that a sore throat is usually brought about by another underlying condition. If you have fever or muscle pain, you can take painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Remember that children should not be given aspirin as it can cause a rare disease known as Reye’s syndrome.

8. Visit your doctor.

If the tips above do not work, it is time to pay your doctor a visit. Your sore throat may be caused by a bacterial infection. Ask whether antibiotics or other medical treatments are necessary to cure your sore throat. You should also go to the doctor immediately if your sore throat is accompanied by difficulty in breathing and swallowing, joint pain, high fever or when your sore throat lasts for more than a week.


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