Sore throats are often the first sign that you’re coming down with something – either a viral or bacterial infection. Following the sore throat are other symptoms, which may include coughing, nasal congestion or runny nose, sneezing, and red or watery eyes. The sore throat, however, can sometimes be the worst symptom experienced and can last as little as three days to one or two weeks depending on the severity and whether it is viral or bacterial related. Generally a viral infection will get better on its own and is just a matter of letting nature take its course, while a bacterial infection is considered much more severe and requires the patient to be on antibiotics. It is important to note that if it is indeed a viral infection, then antibiotics will not relieve symptoms or decrease the length of your illness. Antibiotics should only be taken when a bacterial infection is present. Antibiotic overuse, or taking antibiotics when they aren’t required, can result in antibiotic resistance.
While sore throats are unfortunately a common factor in a cold or flu virus, there are certain home remedies that family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, recommends trying. While these remedies won’t necessarily take away the sore throat completely, they can provide you with temporary relief.
Honey has been used as a remedy for sore throats for many years. In fact, honey is a common ingredient in many throat lozenges due to its proven ability to relieve sore throats and coughs. Honey not only possesses antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to help rid the body of viral infections, but it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling. If you suffer from a persisting cough that keeps you up at night, a few spoonfuls of pure honey can help suppress it and get you a better night’s rest.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is a potent herbal antimicrobial that supports the immune system and can combat a variety of infections such as those that are viral, bacterial, yeast, fungal and parasitic related. Similar to honey, it can also reduce inflammation, and has many other healing benefits. In order to reap the full benefits of oil of oregano, it’s recommended that you take it upon the first sign of a sore throat. While the concentration of oil of oregano will vary from brand to brand, it is generally quite potent, therefore it’s recommended that you dilute it in water or mix it with honey or fruit juice. If you can handle the potency, you can also place a few drops underneath the tongue.
Many studies have shown that gargling with salt water can help to relieve a sore throat. Gargling with salt water can help flush out bacteria and other irritants, as well as loosen mucus. Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt in warm water, and do this several times per day.
Tea, especially chamomile, is commonly used to relieve sore throats thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be soothing to the throat, as well as relieve other common symptoms associated with a cold, such as nasal congestion, and can even help you get a better sleep.