How to Get Rid of a Sore Throat and Get Back to Business

Updated 04/16/19

Waking up with a sore throat is such an eye roll. It's a daunting, familiar feeling we've all dealt with way too often. You can hardly swallow without your tender throat feeling dry, scratchy, and achy. Ugh, it's the worst. It's even hard to talk sometimes because your tonsils and glands feel so out of order. I don't know about you, but when I'm sick, my productivity is ruined. My whole body shuts down. I strongly dislike not feeling like my normal self and usually try to ignore my symptoms and go on with my regular life, which inevitably makes things worse. The best way to beat a sore throat is to confront it head-on fast. We talked to Deevya Narayanan, DO, family medicine doctor at the Medical Offices of Manhattan, to figure out how to get rid of a sore throat.

Read on for Narayanan's step-by-step guide to banishing sore throats.

The Signs a Sore Throat is Coming On

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Narayanan recommends you pay attention to these signs: "A scratch or pain in the throat, or pain in your throat when swallowing or talking, swollen or painful glands in your neck, white patches on your tonsils, or a muffled/change in your voice."

The Common Causes of Sore Throats

According to Narayanan things like viral infections (common cold, mono, flu), bacterial infections (strep throat), allergies, exposure to dry air due to heaters or air conditioners, exposure to irritants like pollution, smoke, or chemicals, yelling and talking a lot, acid reflux, HIV, and tumors are all various causes of sore throats.

Doctor-Recommended Ways to Get Rid of a Sore Throat

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Narayanan told us what she tells all of her patients. You might want to screenshot this.

  • Rest: "This will save energy and allow your immune system to fight off any viruses or bacteria. It will also let your voice rest so you don't irritate it."
  • Fluids: "But not caffeine. Fluids allow you to keep your throat moist."
  • Warm liquids: "Try drinking lots of warm liquids except caffeine. Stick to things like broth, caffeine-free tea, and warm water with honey to soothe your throat."
  • Salt water gargling: "1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 4 to 8 ounces of warm water soothes your throat and helps get rid of some of the microbes causing the sore throat. I'd suggest doing this a few times a day if possible."
  • Using a humidifier or steam inhalation: "This provides moisture to your throat and minimizes irritation."
  • Throat lozenges: "These help soothe your throat—avoid them if there's a risk of choking."
  • Avoid irritants: "Avoid exposure to smoke, cleaning products, and other irritants."
  • Taking Tylenol or ibuprofen: "Tylenol helps with pain and fevers associated with a sore throat. Ibuprofen will help with pain, fevers, and inflammation associated with a sore throat."
  • Stay away from trigger foods: "If your sore throat is due to acid reflux, try to avoid trigger foods."

Is There a Fast Way to Stop a Sore Throat?

"This totally depends on the reason for your sore throat," confirms Narayanan. "Sometimes sore throats can't completely go away in a day; it may take a few days. If your sore throat is due to a cold from a virus or bacteria, you can try Tylenol or ibuprofen, salt water gargling, warm fluids, rest, and lozenges. If your sore throat is due to acid reflux, try to avoid trigger foods. If the sore throat doesn't go away in a few days, you should consult your doctor."

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