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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Sore Throat and Other Throat Problems - Home Treatment

Home treatment is usually all that is needed for a sore throat caused by a virus. These tips may help you feel better.

  • Gargle with warm salt water to help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort:
    • Gargle at least once each hour with 1 tsp (5 g) of salt dissolved in 8 fl oz (240 mL) of warm water.
    • If you have postnasal drip, gargle often to prevent more throat irritation.
  • Prevent dehydration. Fluids may help thin secretions and soothe an irritated throat. Hot fluids, such as tea or soup, may help decrease throat irritation.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in your bedroom.
    • Warm or cool mist may help you feel more comfortable by soothing the swollen air passages. It may also relieve hoarseness. But don't let your room become uncomfortably cold or very damp.
    • Use a shallow pan of water to provide moisture in the air through evaporation if you don't have a humidifier. Place the pan in a safe location where no one will trip on it or fall into it.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • If you suspect that problems with stomach acid may be causing your sore throat, see the topic Heartburn.

Consider taking nonprescription medicine for your symptoms. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label slideshow.gif.

  • Use nonprescription throat lozenges.
    • Medicated throat lozenges or sprays have medicine (local anesthetic) that numbs the throat to soothe pain.
    • Hard candy may also help.
    • Think about buying the sugar-free kind.
  • Use a decongestant or a steroid nasal spray camera.gif if you have a stuffy nose (congestion).
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

More home treatment can be found in topics related to sore throat.

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