Remedies That'll Help Heal Your Sore Throat

Photographed by Megan Madden.
It's winter, it's cold and everyone around you suddenly has the sniffles. In addition to a constant river of mucus running from your nose and chills that make you never want to leave your bed, your throat hurts. A lot! And telling people over and over that your throat hurts, sadly, will not cure it.
The reason why your throat gets achy and fiery is because viruses cause inflammation in your body, says Erich Voigt, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "Unfortunately, one of the most painful symptoms — aside from the fever and body aches — is a sore throat," Dr. Voigt says. Usually it's your tonsils or the lining of your throat itself (called the pharynx) that get inflamed, which causes the ache, he says. Yes, home remedies are dope, and will definitely help the pain subside, though Dr. Voigt says none of them will fight the actual infection.
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An OTC cold medication with a pain reliever might be enough to get rid of your sniffles and cough, but you should see a doctor if you can't swallow or open your mouth widely, or if you feel pain radiating into your ear, or see swelling under your jaw. That could be a sign that an abscess has formed, and you should get thee to a doctor. In the meantime, here are some remedies to ease your sore throat that actually work.
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Use a humidifier.

The mist from a cool vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to the air in your home, which could help the scratchy dry feeling in your throat. (It can also help congestion, if you're also stuffed up.)
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Have a popsicle.

Icy things like popsicles can bring inflammation down. Ice cream also works, and the whole "dairy makes you make more mucus" thing is actually a myth. In fact, some people say ice cream is a good way to consume calories if regular food is bugging your throat, so there you go.
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Photographed by Michelle Drewes.
Drink tea.

Any hot beverage will help soothe your throat, but try to avoid caffeine, which can dehydrate you (the same goes for alcohol), Dr. Voigt says. Some people like peppermint tea because they say it numbs their throat. Also, adding a dollop of honey to any cup could help coat your itchy throat.
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Try marshmallow root.

Marshmallow root has been used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years to help inflammation. When mixed with water, it forms a gummy gel that coats the throat and could reduce the pain. Sadly, there hasn't been research on the puffy candy marshmallows, but we won't hold it against you for trying.
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Drink water — seriously.

Fluids keep your throat moist and prevent dehydration, Dr. Voigt says. "The key to recovery is making sure you stay well hydrated," he says. If you're in so much pain that you can't drink fluids, you can get dehydrated and get even sicker, he says.
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Photographed by Megan Madden.
Take a lozenge.

Sucking on a lozenge basically lubricates your throat with whatever ingredients are in the drop, and according to one study, medicated drops with benzocaine (like the brand Cepacol) are more effective than any old hard candy. Other studies have shown that zinc lozenges, in particular, can decrease the length of your cold.
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Photo: Photographed by Megan Madden.
Pop an ibuprofen.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), like ibuprofen, will "immensely" help your sore throat, because they decrease the inflammation that's causing the hurt in the first place, Dr. Voigt says. Your doctor might also prescribe an oral steroid to decrease the pain.
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Gargle salt water.

Studies have found that gargling about a half-teaspoon of salt diluted in a glass of water can help prevent respiratory infections in the future, and it can also provide temporary sore throat relief. The salt attracts water and pulls it out of your throat tissue, which reduces some of the inflammation and pain, Brian P. Currie, MD, told WebMD.
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