A sore throat is often a sign of an oncoming cold, but it could also be a symptom of numerous other conditions. A sore throat can range from mild irritation or scratchiness to severe pain, even difficulty swallowing. Because sore throat is a symptom and not a disease, there is no catch-all treatment – the ideal treatment may vary depending on the cause for your sore throat. Keep reading to learn more about the potential causes of sore throat as well as additional symptoms and natural remedies.
A sore throat is a symptom, not a condition, so it is important to think about the potential causes before you determine the proper treatment. There are a number of things that can cause a sore throat, including the following:
- Viral Infection – such as mononucleosis, chicken pox, measles, or croup
- Bacterial Infection – such as diphtheria, strep throat, or a whooping cough
- Environmental Irritants – such as allergies, dry air, smoking cigarettes, or yelling too much
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (or GERD)
The causes listed above are the most common for a sore throat, but there are some less common potential causes as well such as HIV or throat cancer. If your sore throat persists for more than a week, you may want to talk to your doctor.
You may think that a sore throat is a sore throat, but there are some causes for this ailment which may produce additional symptoms. Some of the other symptoms you may experience along with your sore throat include the following:
- Throat pain
- Itchiness or scratchiness
- Dry throat
- Swollen neck glands
- Difficulty swallowing
For certain causes of sore throat, you may also find white patches on the tonsils and, in some cases, sore throat may contribute to breathing difficulties.
10 Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat
A sore throat may be a minor nuisance, or it can be painful enough to disrupt your day. Before you reach for an over-the-counter syrup or lozenge, consider whether a natural home remedy might give you the relief you desire. The ten natural remedies below will soothe your sore throat without the risk for side effects or interactions.
- Tea and Honey
A nice mug of hot tea can help to soothe a sore throat and adding honey will give you an extra boost. Honey has natural antibacterial properties, and it can help to speed healing. To soothe a sore throat, enjoy a cup of hot tea with honey two to four times per day, as needed.
- Gargle Salt Water
Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass and fill it the rest of the way with warm water then stir well. Gargle the solution for thirty seconds every two to three hours throughout the day. This herbal remedy will help to soothe your throat by breaking down irritating secretions – it may also help to kill bacteria in the throat.
- Sip Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient in natural remedies because it has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, among other benefits. To use this as a natural remedy for sore throat, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with one cup of water and gargle for thirty seconds. After thirty seconds, take a few sips of the mixture. Repeat the process every hour or so, drinking plenty of fresh water between each treatment.
- Fenugreek Tea
Fenugreek has the power to kill bacteria, especially the type known to cause irritation and inflammation – it also has natural antifungal properties. To use fenugreek as an herbal remedy for sore throat, you can chew on the seeds or drink fenugreek tea. To make your own fenugreek tea, simply take a teaspoon of fenugreek seeks and crush them lightly in a mug then fill with one cup of boiling water. Let the seeds steep for 10 to 15 minutes then strain and sip slowly.
- Suck a Clove of Garlic
Another food with natural antibacterial properties, garlic contains a compound called allicin which is a powerful infection fighter. To use garlic as an herbal remedy for sore throat, suck or chew on a fresh clove once per day.
- Marshmallow Tea
Marshmallow tea is made from the marshmallow root, not the sugary treat. This root is a natural mucilage which may help to soothe and coat the mucus membranes in your throat to relieve pain and soreness. To make your own marshmallow root tea, steep 1 tablespoon of dried root in a cup of boiling water for 30 to 60 minutes (covered) then strain and sip.
- Inhale Warm Steam
If your throat is dry as well as sore, inhaling warm steam may help. Simply sit at the kitchen table with a bowl half-filled with hot water on the table in front of you. Place a bath towel over your head, covering the bowl, and lean over the bowl to breathe the steam. For an extra boost of throat-soothing power, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the water.
- Gargle Baking Soda
In the same way that you can gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat, you can also gargle a solution of baking soda and water. Take ½ teaspoon of baking soda and stir it into a cup of warm water then gargle for 30 seconds – do this three times daily.
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a natural pain-killer and it has the power to kill bacteria – it may also help to relax your muscles, helping you to get some rest. You can purchase chamomile tea at your local grocery store. Just steep it, covered, for about 10 minutes then add honey or lemon as desired.
- Get Plenty of Rest and Fluids
In addition to trying some of the other natural remedies listed above, you should get plenty of rest to give your body time to kick the infection or whatever is causing your sore throat. Even though it may be painful to swallow, you also need to drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. If you are having trouble eating, make sure to drink liquids that contain nutrients like fresh fruit or vegetable juice.