A throat infection (or sore throat) can make it difficult for you to swallow due to swelling and tenderness. In some cases, tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) as well as ear and neck pain also develop. Throat infections can be caused by either a virus or bacteria – the first are most common and usually pass on their own; bacterial sore throats are more serious and need medical attention. To ease a sore throat, try taking over-the-counter medication. You can also use natural remedies. Speak to your doctor if the throat infection is severe or does not improve after several days.
Gargle salt water to soothe throat pain.
Salt water helps to remove harmful bacteria in your throat and soothe throat irritation. Put one to two teaspoons of sea salt in a glass of warm water. Put the salt water in your mouth and tilt your head back so you can gargle it.
Repeat this procedure twice a day.
Drink honey and lemon juice to soothe throat irritation.
Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Honey is also a proven cough suppressant. Mix equal parts of pure honey and fresh lemon juice in a cup. Warm the mixture over the stove in the microwave and drink it to help soothe your throat.
You can also add honey and lemon juice to herbal tea and drink it that way.
Have sage and echinacea tea.
Sage is a natural herb that is anti-inflammatory and can relieve throat pain. Echinacea is also a good herb for reducing inflammation and fighting bacteria. Boil ½ cup water and stir in 1 teaspoon ground sage and 1 teaspoon ground echinacea. Let the tea steep for 30 minutes, pour it through a strainer, and drink.
If you do not like the taste of the tea, you can add honey or lemon to it.
Have apple cider vinegar tea to kill bacteria.
Another good home remedy for a throat infection is having tea made of apple cider vinegar. Combine 1 cup boiling water with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Let the tea cool and then drink.
You can add honey to the tea if you prefer it sweet.
Have topical throat lozenges.
Topical throat lozenges contain benzocaine, phenol and lidocaine, which can help to relieve throat irritation. Lozenges often contain natural ingredients like honey and lemon as well as medical ingredients. Look for throat lozenges in the medicine aisle at the grocery store or the drugstore.
Take one lozenge and suck on it like a candy until it dissolves in your mouth. Do not swallow it whole. Never take more than two lozenges at a time.
Try over-the-counter sore throat medication.
Over-the-counter medication for sore throats can be used to treat the symptoms of a sore throat if it is minor. Usually, these meds come in the form of lozenges, anesthetic or antiseptic sprays, or gargles.
Keep in mind that if your sore throat is severe or you think it is a bacterial infection, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and prescription medication. Over-the-counter medication may not be strong enough to address your infection.
Take pain medication to reduce fever and pain.
Pain medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help to reduce symptoms of a throat infection, such as irritation and pain. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label. In most cases, one or two tablets can be taken every 4 hours to reduce fever and pain.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen usually have no side effects, but some people are allergic to their ingredients. Make sure you have no history of an allergic reaction to acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or their components before you take them.
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Keep your sore throat lubricated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. Prevent dehydration by sipping water. Have at least eight to ten glasses of water a day.
You can add slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber to the water to give it some natural flavor.
Set up a humidifier in your home.
Add moisture to the air around you to ease throat irritation. Use a cool-mist humidifier in your room. Clean it regularly so bacteria and mold does not develop in the humidifier.
Rest to allow your body to fight the infection.
Give your body the time and energy it needs to fight off the throat infection. Stay in bed and rest. Do not do any strenuous activity or stay up too late at night.
You may distract yourself in bed by reading a book or watching television.
Avoid smoking and air pollution.
Cigarette smoke can make your throat infection worse. Cut back on smoking or quit smoking. Stay away from areas where there is cigarette smoke.
Air pollution like smog can also make your throat infection worse. If you live in a highly populated city with smog, stay inside during the hottest time of the day, as this is often when air pollution is at its worst.
Distinguish the signs of viral and bacterial infections.
While viral sore throats are common and usually resolve themselves, a bacterial sore throat is more serious. Strep throat (caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria) is one of the most common bacterial infections and needs medical attention right away.
A viral sore throat is usually accompanied by cold symptoms. Look for things like a cough, runny nose, or general sinus congestion.
Bacterial throat infections show different signs. They often come on very suddenly and are more likely to affect children.
Strep throat is frequently described as a severe sore throat, and the symptoms last for longer than a viral throat infection. Swallowing may be hard. The tonsils and back of the throat can also look very red and swollen, while streaks of pus or red spots occur on the roof of the mouth. Other symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, and swollen lymph nodes.
Strep throat is very contagious and can pass through the air and close contact. If untreated, it can lead to ear infections, Scarlet fever, Rheumatic fever, blood poisoning, kidney disease, and bone infections. See a doctor right away if you suspect you or a child has strep throat.
Get a diagnosis from your doctor.
If your throat infection is severe and does not go away with home treatments, or if you think it might be bacterial, see your doctor. Your doctor can do a physical exam of your throat and review your other symptoms. They can then diagnose the issue and prescribe treatment.
You may have a throat infection that is bacterial, such as strep throat, or you may have a throat infection that is caused by a virus. In rare cases, you may have tonsillitis. A doctor can confirm what is ailing you.
Ask your doctor about taking antibiotics.
Oral antibiotics are prescribed if you have a bacterial infection like strep throat. Antibiotics will help to treat the infection. You should feel better within one to two days of taking the antibiotics.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions on dosage for the antibiotics. You cannot drink alcohol while taking antibiotics.
Be sure to complete the full course of antibiotic therapy, as well.
Discuss surgery if you have chronic tonsillitis.
If you have tonsillitis that returns often, at least once a month, or that is causing you breathing or sleep issues, your doctor may recommend surgery. During the surgery, your tonsils will be removed so they do not bother you anymore.
You will be under general anesthetic during the surgery. Your doctor should outline the procedure beforehand.