Summer is winding down, which means one thing: Christmas displays are already going up in Kansas stores. It also means school is about to start up again, and many Topeka kids will be bringing home more than just homework. Colds are commonplace in the fall and winter months, and one of the key symptoms is a sore throat. Fortunately, there are a number of natural remedies you can try to help relieve the pain and discomfort.
How to Relieve a Sore Throat
Sore throats are characterized by a scratchy, itchy sensation that causes pain and makes swallowing difficult. They are often the first precursor to a head cold and easily transmitted from person to person. Before you turn to medications for relief, try the following natural remedies.
- Honey. Honey coats and soothes the throat, reducing soreness. It contains antibacterial properties, including a compound that the body converts to hydrogen peroxide, to help ease pain and discomfort. Due to botulism concerns, don’t give children younger than one year old honey.
- Frozen foods. Frozen foods numb the tissues and nerves, bringing relief from pain. Nobody likes having a sore throat, but an excuse to eat ice cream, frozen yogurt or Popsicles offers a silver lining.
- Tea. Hot beverages can be equally effective in soothing the throat. Try tea, especially an herbal blend containing ginger, sage, thyme or chamomile. Hot broth or chicken bouillon are also good choices
- Saltwater gargle. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle with the solution several times a day to help relieve throat pain.
- Chicken soup. Grandmothers know best: chicken soup really is good for the body when you’re sick. It contains ingredients that prevent throat inflammation from spreading, hastening the healing process.
- Potato poultice. For a homemade recipe that works like a heating pad, cook and mash a few potatoes, wrap them in a cloth while still hot, add a second cloth to prevent scalding and place the poultice against your neck for a few hours. This helps stimulate circulation and relieve pain.
- Garlic. Dracula was right to avoid garlic; it contains a natural compound called allicin that is believed to have antimicrobial properties.
- Supplements. Vitamin supplements like zinc and elderberry are effective at reducing sore throat symptoms. Pelargonium sidoides root extract (a/k/a South African geranium) has also been proven to reduce the severity and duration of a sore throat, especially in kids. Always check with your doctor before using supplements.
- Vicks VapoRub. A go-to remedy for moms for decades, the ingredients in Vicks VapoRub (camphor, menthol and eucalyptus ointment) are natural pain relievers and are great at clearing up nasal passages, too—making breathing easier. It’s a great choice for kids who aren’t old enough to safely take medicine.
- Humidifier. A humidifier or cool mist vaporizer helps with breathing and can relieve the pain and discomfort associated with a sore throat.
Most sore throats clear up quickly, especially when you try the above remedies. If yours lingers more than a few days, schedule an evaluation with a Topeka ear, nose and throat specialist to rule out anything serious.