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 to figure out how to get rid of a sore throat.
Meet the Expert
Deevya Narayanan, DO, is a family medicine doctor at the Medical Offices of Manhattan
According to Narayanan, sore throats can be caused by everything from minor health issues—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 and acid reflux—to more serious ones like HIV and tumors. Keep an eye on accompanying symptoms to get an idea of what you might be dealing with; the cause of your sore throat will probably impact the method of treatment.
Whether or not you can eradicate the pain quickly "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." And, of course, "If the sore throat doesn't go away in a few days, you should consult your doctor."
Read on for Narayanan's step-by-step guide to banishing sore throats.
Don't Ignore the Signs
Don't do what I do and pretend everything is fine until you're bedridden; Narayanan recommends paying attention to these signs that a sore throat or cold is blooming: "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."
Gargle with Salt Water
Gargling with salt water is a tried-and-true method for calming an inflamed throat. Narayanan recommends mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 4 to 8 ounces of warm water. "[This] 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," she says.
Take a Painkiller
For some quick relief, don't discount over-the-counter painkillers, which can minimize some of your symptoms. "Tylenol helps with pain and fevers associated with a sore throat. Ibuprofen will help with pain, fevers, and inflammation associated with a sore throat."
Avoid Trigger Foods
"If your sore throat is due to acid reflux, try to avoid trigger foods," suggests Narayanan. Common foods that can exacerbate the effects of acid reflux include coffee, spicy foods, citrus fruits, foods that are high in fat.