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Understanding Sore Throat: Treatment

What Are the Treatments for a Sore Throat?

Since most sore throats from infections are caused by viruses related to colds, antibiotics -- used to eradicate bacterial infections -- are not usually needed to speed recovery from a sore throat. Treatment for sore throats and colds from viruses are done to relieve symptoms, so home remedies may be just as effective as over-the-counter or prescription medicines. Sore throats caused by bacteria, such as strep throat, do require an antibiotic. Check with your doctor to be sure. The best way for your doctor to know is to do a rapid strep test or throat culture. Even an experienced doctor cannot reliably tell without a test.

Home Remedies for a Sore Throat

  • 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.
  • Suck on frozen treats (such as Popsicles).
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Sip chicken broth, or try warm tea with honey, which has been a long-standing and comforting remedy.
  • To help relieve the pain, apply a warm heating pad or compress to your throat.
  • Try steam inhalations to ease the pain. Run very hot water in a sink. With a towel draped over your head to trap the steam, lean over the sink while the hot water is running. Breathe deeply through your mouth and nose for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day. Always be careful not to burn yourself with the hot water or steam.
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on March 12, 2014
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