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14 Sore Throat Remedies to Try When You Have That Itchy and Downright Irritating Sensation

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The worst part of having a cold, we would argue, isn’t even the fever, cough or stuffy nose. It has to be the scratchy, painful and downright irritating feeling that comes with having a sore throat. Worst still when it attacks while you are sleeping, and you can’t clear or cough it away (no matter how hard you try). That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 14 sore throat remedies that can make that sandpaper sensation a bit more bearable.

12 Things to Do When You Have the Worst Cold Ever


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1. Drink water

Hydration is paramount when you’re battling a sore throat. It aides your body in producing the saliva and mucus need to keep your throat lubricated. Per the experts at Harvard Medical School, even when you’re not sick you should be drinking about four to six cups of water a day. So when that itchy feeling starts making its way down your throat, aim for at least that amount.

2. Sip diluted apple-cider vinegar

It may be gross, but ACV gets the job done. In addition to making a good poison ivy treatment and liver-cleansing tonic, apple cider vinegar can also help treat a sore throat. Mix a tablespoon of ACV into a cup of warm water and then add a teaspoon of honey. Stir and sip. The Breathe Clear Institute also says you can make a gargling solution by mixing one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with ½ teaspoon of salt and eight ounces of warm water.

3. Have an ice pop

Curing a sore throat doesn’t have to be yucky all the time. Apparently, ice pops—preferably the ones without citrus, sugar or dairy—can make the irritation go away. Professor Ron Eccles—former director of Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University—told Medical News Today, “Ice lollies would be a good treatment for sore throat as they have a local cooling effect on inflamed tissues and may have a specific inhibitory effect on pain-sensitive nerves in the throat.” Cue all the sugar-free strawberry lemon popsicles.

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4. Drink turmeric

Not just for seasoning food, this nifty spice has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Turmeric’s most active ingredient, curcumin, may contain anti-inflammatory benefits that can reduce inflammation and swelling, our friends at Cleveland Clinic tell us. And while there are no studies demonstrating the brightly-colored spice’s effect on the common cold, it’s frequently used exactly for this purpose in Ayurvedic medicine and cuisine. Curious to try it out yourself? Simply add a teaspoon of turmeric to your standard hot water with lemon and honey and wait for that sweet relief.

5. Suck on a pastille

Singers swear by 'em to keep vocal cords lubricated, and they can do the same for your sore, dry throat. Try Grether’s Blackcurrant Pastilles, which taste great, too.

6. Sip tea

We can’t talk sore throat remedies without bringing up tea. There are countless varieties you can sip on, all of which should help to soothe that scratchy feeling. Add honey, lemon, ginger, or the aforementioned turmeric to your regular cup, or buy ones specifically made for sore throats for maximum relief. Our favorite is Throat Coat, a combo of slippery elm, licorice and marshmallow root.

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7. Bring on the hot sauce

According to Penn Medicine, a world-renowned academic medical center in Philadelphia, “hot sauce is made from peppers that are high in capsaicin, which can be used to fight inflammation and provide pain relief.” That’s why the experts recommend dribbling a few drops in a warm glass of water to gargle. Or try adding a little to your dinner for a tasty, yet soothing meal. (Note: It may burn a little at first.)

8. Try OTC medications

Pain killers such as Advil, aspirin and Tylenol are also anti-inflammatories, so they may reduce swollen glands temporarily. Follow the directions on the box for how much and how often to use, and keep in mind that aspirin is also a blood thinner, so skip it if you have any bleeding or clotting disorders.

9. Keep things steamy

Use a cool-mist humidifier—like Pure Enrichment’s MistAire Ultrasonic Humidifier—to keep your vocal cords lubricated and make breathing a little bit easier. (A long, hot shower or bath works, too.)

10. Try an over-the-counter throat spray

One that contains menthol, like Chloraseptic, will temporarily numb your throat, giving you up to four hours of relief.

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11. Eat chicken soup

It’s not just comforting—it’s actually scientifically proven to reduce mucus in the nasal passages, which can be what’s causing your throat irritation. Here are 50 delicious chicken soup recipes to warm you right up.

12. Gargle with salt water

Grandmothers across the globe have been utilizing this trick for years because it works. “You’re creating a high-salt barrier and pulling out a lot of fluids from the tissues in the throat area, so you’re washing the virus out,” Sorana Segal-Maurer, MD, chief of the Dr. James J. Rahal Jr. Division of Infectious Disease at New York Hospital Queens told WebMD. “The salt functions as a magnet for water [and] it’s good for symptomatic relief.” Dissolve two teaspoons of salt in a glass of warm water and then gargle it and spit it into the sink. Repeat three times a day to reduce pain and inflammation.

13. Rest your voice

We know you want to call your best friend and tell her about how much your throat hurts, but stick to texting instead. You don’t want to overwork your throat unnecessarily.

14. Get it checked out

If your sore throat came on suddenly with a fever or is severe, you may have strep throat or another infection that requires prescription medication. Call your doctor to see what’s going on. Hey, better safe than sorry, people.