Best Medications and Home Remedies to Cure Your Sore Throat
Did you know sore throats are among the most common health ailments? An aching throat can make swallowing, talking, eating and drinking more difficult. It can be tricky figuring out the cause. Common causes of a sore throat include:
- Viral infections such as the flu or the common cold
- Bacterial infections such as strep throat
- Acid reflux
- Dry air
Usually, your throat will heal within the week. Until then, find some relief for your achy throat with these tips on home remedies and over-the-counter medications.
Symptoms of a sore throat
A sore throat's symptoms differ depending on what it has been caused by and can worsen when eating or drinking. A few general symptoms you will experience with a sore throat are:
- A steady scratchy feeling
- Rawness or dryness
- Tenderness or irritation
- Pain when swallowing or talking
- Redness in your throat or tonsils
Typically, viral infections are accompanied by other symptoms such as cough, congestion, fatigue and/or muscle aches. If you have a bacterial infection, like strep throat, it is characterized as more common in those under 18 years of age, pain focused mainly on your throat, and the absence of cough and/or congestion. Along with pain when swallowing, you may have a high fever. If you are experiencing symptoms other than a sore throat, please visit an urgent care or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
Best medication for sore throats
A throbbing throat can cause pain and discomfort. As the first line of defense, you can head to your local drugstore, where you will find many medications to help relieve the pain. Some of these helpful over-the-counter medications are:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or Aspirin
- Antihistamines work to block the release of histamine in the body, a chemical that can cause allergic reactions. Antihistamines may be helpful for those who are having a sore throat due to seasonal allergies. Some examples are Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra or products containing chlorpheniramine.
- Medicated throat lozenges help to soothe your throat and keep it moist. These come in a variety of flavors, from honey to cherry. Cepacol, Ricola and Halls are some of the most popular brands.
- A numbing antiseptic throat spray like phenol or one containing a cooling ingredient like menthol or eucalyptus. These sprays help relieve discomfort and pain and kill germs that can lead to an infection. An example is Vicks VapoCool throat spray.
- If your sore throat is caused by GERD or acid reflux – try medications that reduce stomach acid, such as antacids (Tums or Rolaids).
If a bacterial infection causes your sore throat, it will likely need antibiotics to treat the infection. If so, you should consider booking an appointment with your clinician or visiting an Ochsner Urgent Care or making a telehealth appointment.
Antihistamines, pain relievers and numbing medications are some of the best medicines to cure a sore throat. Some may decide over-the-counter medications are not right for them and instead prefer other remedies to ease their pain. There are numerous remedies proven to work that you can do in the comfort of your home. Some of these remedies may only mask your pain and not resolve the pain. Here are a few remedies suggested to try and soothe your tender throat:
- Gargle with salt water.
- Saltwater is the perfect home remedy for sore throats because it can calm inflammation and irritation and reduce swelling. For the saltwater mix, dissolve ¼ teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Gargle the liquid for approximately 10 seconds and spit it out. You can repeat this two to four times throughout the day.
- Honey is a popular ingredient in cough medicine and teas because it has antibacterial properties. Add a tablespoon to a glass of warm water or tea to coat your throat. Honey can reduce irritation, act as a cough suppressant and adds the perfect pinch of sweetness to your cup.
- Warm and cold fluids.
- Sipping on liquids, whether cold or hot, helps keep things flowing and prevents further infections, such as sinus infections. Try sipping on warm tea, chicken soup, ice water or popsicles.
- Steam and humidity.
- Turn on your shower to a hot temperature. Once the room heats up and gets steamy, breathe in the warm moist air.
- Staying hydrated is necessary when you are feeling under the weather. Juices such as apple and grape are high in vitamin C and easy for your body to digest. Be sure to avoid citrus juices like orange juice or lemonade because the acid can further upset your throat.
- Resting your body and voice allows your body a chance to heal itself. When resting, be sure to elevate your head. Lying flat on your back can increase pressure and aggravate your symptoms.
Know when to see your doctor
Sore throats typically heal on their own within seven days, but some, if caused by a bacterial infection, may need to be treated by a physician. Make an appointment with a primary care physician if you are experiencing other serious symptoms or if your sore throat persists longer than a week.