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Most sore throats are caused by viruses. That means antibiotics, drugs used to treat bacterial infections, won’t help you get better any faster.

The exception is strep throat. Bacteria cause that condition, so you need to see a doctor for it.

What to Try

If your sore throat stems from a cold virus, these home remedies may work just as well as over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

  • Get plenty of rest, and drink a lot of fluids.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per glass of water).
  • Suck on throat lozenges or hard candy.
  • Try frozen treats like Popsicles.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Sip chicken broth or warm tea with honey.
  • Inhale steam. Run hot water in a sink. Drape a towel over your head to trap the steam, and lean over the sink with the water running. Breathe deeply through your mouth and nose for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day.
  • Apply a warm heating pad or compress to your throat.