The warm, mucous membrane lining of the throat provides a suitable environment for invading viruses and bacteria to flourish. These organisms cause irritation and inflammation of the membrane, making the throat feel scratchy and sore. Throat inflammation due to a cold will usually diminish in 2-3 days, as the body begins to conquer the infection.
In the meantime, there are some home remedies that can bring temporary relief to the throat.
Natural treatment and comfort measures
GARGLE WITH WARM SALT WATER – It helps soothe the throat and reduces swelling in the tissues. This is the safest, least expensive, and probably the more effective treatment of a sore throat. Mix a tea-spoon of salt to an 8-oz. glass of warm water. Gargle every 3-4 hours. Contrary to popular belief, gargling with aspirin dissolved in warm water is not advisable as it may cause further irritation to the membrane. You need to swallow aspirin for the body to absorb it as a pain reliever.
SIPPING WARM LIQUIDS like hot tea or soup can be soothing to the tissues of the throat and help with healing by drawing circulation to the tissues.
COUGH DROPS or HARD CANDY can also soothe your throat.
REST YOUR VOICE as much as possible. Avoid straining your voice by screaming or loud talking.
STOP SMOKING, or at least cut down. You may be carrying the cause of your sore throat in your pocket.
COOL AIR and HUMIDITY will help keep your throat moist and more comfortable. Turn down the thermostat and use a vaporizer if you have one, or turn on a hot shower to create steam.
ANTIBIOTICS are not effective in curing a sore throat caused by viral infection such as a cold or influenza. The remedies recommended above provide the best relief.
Professional medical advice should be sought when:
- A severe sore throat lasts for more than 3 days and shows no sign of improvement.
- The tonsils become enlarged.
- White mucous patches appear on the surface of the throat or tonsils.
- You have a fever.
These symptoms often indicate a bacterial infection, for which antibiotics can be an effective cure.
- CHLORASEPTIC THROAT SPRAY/GARGLE numbs the throat tissues temporarily, makes swallowing easier, and may kill some germs.
- CHLORASEPTIC (CEPASTAT or other) LOZENGES temporarily numb the throat tissues and reduce discomfort.
- Aspirin substitute ACETAMINOPHEN (Tylenol) is an analgesic that can reduce sore throat pain.
Dosage: Take 2 every 4 hours.
Caution: Do not gargle with aspirin in water – undissolved particles may stick in the throat and irritate the tissues.
If your symptoms do not go away in five to seven days, you should consider seeking medical attention.