10 Natural Ways to Soothe A Sore Throat
Having a sore throat sucks! Whether you have the dry scratch, the tickly cough or the “oh my god I can’t bare this any longer!” There’s NOTHING fun about struggling to swallow, not to mention the bad breath and swollen neck glands that often accompany.
The good news is that most sore throats get better all by themselves within a week, rarely lasting longer than 7 days. Thanks human body – you are amazing. The even better news is that nature provides us with a huge host of ways that we can soothe our sore throats and speed up the healing process – shortening the time spent suffering. Thanks Mother Earth – you are truly incredible!
Of course, the last thing you want to do when you’re poorly is undertake extensive research on how to get better. But you also don’t want to waste time trying out old wives tales that simply don’t work, or worse yet, taking medication that you may not even need. It is for this reason we’ve put together a clear guide on the causes of your sore throat, alongside a useful list of natural ways your accelerate your recovery.
But first, let’s understand the symptoms of a sore throat – to ensure you don’t have anything more serious:
Painful throat that is heightened when swallowing
Dry, scratchy or tickly feeling in the throat
Redness in the back of the mouth
Neck glands that are slightly sore and swollen
A mild cough
What is the most common cause of a sore throat?
When we suffer an illness of any type, it’s normal to want to know what caused it. It’s good to understand how sore throats are picked up as it helps you to learn how you can take extra precautions next time and avoid passing it on.
Cold and flu viruses are the most common causes of a sore throat. Though it is highly unlikely that you will avoid catching a cold or the flu in your lifetime, (the average adult falls unwell around 2-3 times each year) you can do your best not to spread or catch germs by washing your hands regularly, (antibacterial gel or hand sanitiser is a good on-the-go option) staying at home when you do fall ill and keeping your immune system healthy all year round to ensure that you have enough of the appropriate vitamins in your diet.
What else can cause a sore throat?
Sore throats can also be caused by environmental irritants, such as heavily polluted areas or even by smoking (often due to the heat it produces). This is less common but worth noting, especially if you are a heavy smoker or have recently inhaled a lot of dirty air.
Bacteria is another main cause of sore throats, albeit a less common one. When you have a bacterial infection in your throat, this a rare case in which a GP might actually provide antibiotics to help. Sore throats that are caused by a virus, smoke or another environmental irritant are usually not improved by a course of antibiotics, hence why they are no longer provided by NHS GP’s in such cases. Bacteria and viruses are two very different things. Here’s a video that outlines this in an easy-to-understand way:
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How can I treat a sore throat, naturally?
As we already know, a sore throat will usually clear up on it own, unless you have a bacterial infection that may require antibiotics to budge. Despite this, there’s lots you can do to soothe your own symptoms naturally and at home – without the need for any medication!
Here are our top recommendations for treating a sore throat that you should call upon when you wake up irritated and inflamed:
1. Drink plenty of fluids and vitamin rich drinks
Keeping hydrated is vital on any day, not just sick days. That being said, you may find you need to drink more than usual when a sore throat arises. Listen to what your body needs – provide it with lots of water and vitamin rich drinks, like tea containing ingredients like lemon, ginger and manuka honey. Orange and other fruit juices are ideal too, though you should make sure you watch your sugar content – too much of anything can be a bad thing, as they say… and rightly so!
2. Fill up on healthy soft foods and soups
Hard, crunchy and overly chewy foods are best saved for when you are well again, as they often irritate and scratch the throat further. Save your energy and instead opt for wholesome, filling soft foods like bananas, warm oatmeal, cooked pasta, yoghurts, smoothies, mashed potatoes and soups. Fill yourself full with goodness. After all - you are what you eat!
3. Suck on herbal cough lozenges, ice cubes or hard sweets
Although swallowing can be painful with a sore throat, it’s amazing how much sucking on something like a herbal cough lozenge can help. How? Well, it’s all about reducing dryness. By sucking on cough sweets or ice cubes, you are increasing saliva production and coating the throat, which helps to ease discomfort and reduce the cough reflex. Plus, many herbal cough lozenges have added ingredients such as anise, menthol and peppermint oils that are proven to alleviate throat pain almost instantly.
4. Keep your hands nice and clean
As we touched on above, it is incredibly important to keep your hands nice and clean when you are unwell, to avoid spreading any nasty germs around. Of course, you should wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly on a daily basis to evade picking up any viruses or bacteria in the first place. If you weren’t already doing so and have a sneaky suspicion that you may have fallen sick due to this lack of care, it’s prime time you made it a new habit! It is not just you that this impacts – there can be a domino effect of germ spreading if you are not careful.
5. Avoid smoking or being in highly polluted areas
It’s not hard to imagine that smoking can have a damaging effect on your throat, causing irritation and soreness. We won’t use this as a time to lecture you on the endless reasons why you should give up smoking, but we will advise you to avoid it completely when you are suffering with a sore throat. The heat will increase the uncomfortable sensation of dryness and may cause you to cough and strain your throat even further, resulting in a longer period of healing.
Indoor pollution (smoke, dirt, dust, gas etc) isn’t the only thing to avoid though, as outdoor pollution can be just as bad! Try to steer clear of heavily polluted areas like Central London if possible, and if not, take the back roads rather than busy, city ones. Four key pollutants – particulate matter (PM), ozone and nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide – can cause all sorts of health risks if limits set by the WHO are exceeded. It’s definitely something to be conscious of, especially so during your recovery.
6. Take some time to rest and recover
Your body is resilient and often has the ability to fight off anything that is thrown at it with sufficient time. So give yourself just that – time. To rest, and to recover. When you are run down, continuing about your daily business can be detrimental to your health. You may feel guilty, like you should “just get on with it” or stressed out that “there’s just so much to do!” But remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take this sore throat as a message from your body. What is it telling you? Maybe it has been yelling at you to slow down for some time. Now, will you listen?
7. Gargle using warm, salty water
We know, it doesn’t sound like the most appealing remedy, but several studies have found that gargling with warm, salt water a few times a day can work wonders when it comes to reducing swelling in the throat. It helps to flush out irritants and bacteria and loosens up any built up mucus. You only need about half a teaspoon for one cup of water, and you can do this as many times a day as you feel necessary, so long as you don’t swallow any!
8. Purify your home with a Himalayan salt lamp
Made from pieces of Himalayan salt crystals, these lamps serve as the most stunning interior decorations and act as a natural source of light in the home, but their diverse functions extend far beyond simple aesthetics. As the chunks of salt produce negative ions, it is possible that these lamps protect against airborne germs and yield an overall positive effect on indoor air, which could in turn accelerate the healing process of your sore throat. Pretty cool, right? We thought so too!
9. Create your own steam inhaler
Steam inhalation is a massively valuable, incredibly low cost way to treat your sore throat in the comfort of your own home. Simply boil some water on the stove or in the kettle, carefully tip it into a sturdy bowl and place your head over the bowl, with a towel or cloth over your head to contain the steam. Be wary not to get too close and burn yourself. Breathe in and out deeply. Don’t do this for any longer than 5 minutes and be sure to stop if you feel any discomfort.
You may like to add a couple of drops (and no more!) of essential oils into the mix, to create some healing, vapour fumes. Our top suggestions for expelling phlegm are eucalyptus, pine tree, peppermint and lavandin, all of which have blissful, balsamic properties and are multipurpose essential oils; must-haves for your holistic health toolkit!
And there you have it, the ultimate guide on how to soothe your sore throat without any professional intervention or pharmaceutical medication!
But don’t forget to check out the final two sections to ensure they don’t apply to you.
We really do hope you feel better soon, and that you enjoyed this article. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts, feelings and feedback in the comments section below, and pass this onto to any friends or family you think could benefit.
When should I see a doctor or GP?
If none of the above works for you or your symptoms are more severe that those described above, it’s time to see a GP. Seeking a professional opinion is recommended in the following scenarios:
if you get sore throats often
your sore throat hasn’t improved after a week
you’ve got an unnerving concern about your sore throat
your sore throat is combined with a very high temperature, or you are hot but shivery
you have a weakened immune system or chronic illness/disease
In these cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry, as a serve or long-lasting sore throat could be a more serious bacterial infection such as strep throat. If you can’t reach your GP and aren’t sure what to do, call 111 for advice. The sooner you respond to your body, the better (and quicker) a recovery you’re likely to have.
Please call 999 if...
you are having real difficulty swallowing/breathing
are drooling or making high-pitched sounds as you breathe
your symptoms are severe and appear to be worsening quickly
you are struggling to breathe
It is important that you seek urgent medical attention if required, to ensure you receive all the help that you need.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Sending you all the get well wishes in the world,
Samuel & Marie x
Research, Resources & Further Reading:
Psssst! Don’t leave before checking out some of these awesome articles. Some super helpful stuff here.
NHS guidelines & advice
NHS Inform on chest infections
How to treat colds while pregnant
How Himalayan salt lamps work & why you need one (+ where to buy)
The top 15 essential oils for colds and flus based on science
11 foods that soothe a sore throat
The advice in this article is not specialised to pregnant women, babies or children. This article is aimed at regular, healthy adults suffering from a sore throat. If you have health complications this content may not be for you. We are not responsible for the decisions you make, and this website should NOT be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool. We are simply sharing our recommendations/experiences with you, friend to friend. Always consult your conventional doctor for specific concerns. In cases of medical emergencies, visit your nearest hospital or call 999. Click here for complete disclaimer.