Sore throats are an unfortunately common ailment that can cause immense discomfort and disrupt your daily activities. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from these symptoms and alleviate their effects.
Most sore throats are caused by viral infections such as colds or flus. These germs spread through breathing in the coughs and sneezes of people with the infection, and touching surfaces contaminated by germs. To protect yourself from these viruses, wash your hands frequently and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t readily available.
Gargle with salt water or baking soda to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria; additionally, drinking plenty of fluids is recommended. Unfortunately, these treatments aren’t as powerful as prescription medications so if your sore throat doesn’t improve or gets worse despite using home or OTC remedies, then it’s time to see a doctor.
Sore throats can be caused by allergies to foods, dust and other environmental irritants. They usually manifest during certain seasons such as fall or spring and may last for weeks or even months.
If your sore throat is due to allergies, try to stay away from irritants such as food or take over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants to clear out your sinuses. You can also rinse your throat with warm salt water and use a humidifier to keep mucus from drying out.
Don’t Overdose on Pain Relievers
While aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may help soothe sore throats, you should avoid giving these over-the-counter medications to children under 12 years old. Aspirin has been linked with Reye’s syndrome, a serious but rare condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain.
Rest and Hydrate
A sore throat often goes along with a fever, so it’s essential to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of liquids. Additionally, sleeping with your head elevated helps reduce pressure in the back of the throat.
Smoking can aggravate a sore throat, especially if you’re already sick or have had a bacterial infection. To protect yourself, avoid breathing smoke into your mouth or nose when trying to sneeze or cough, and cover your nose and mouth with tissue if in public places.
Do a Steam Shower or Humidifier
A hot bath, especially after a long day, can help soothe sore throats by warming up the pharynx and decreasing inflammation. Adults may want to shower with a humidifier as dry air may irritate their throats.
Don’t Overdose on Alcohol
When you have a sore throat, it is wise to avoid drinking alcohol as too much dehydrates you and makes the symptoms worse. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult a doctor prior to consuming any alcoholic beverages.
Gargle with Warm Saltwater
Mixing one teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm water and gargling it can help soothe a sore throat. This helps thin out mucus and boosts your immune system, which is essential for fighting infection.