When people have a sore throat, they may experience a scratchy sensation in their throat, experience difficulty swallowing, or have sore or swollen glands in the neck or jaw. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and fever are symptoms that also sometimes accompany sore throat.
People usually recover from a sore throat in just 3-4 days, though complications can occur in some cases. One serious complication of sore throat - rheumatic fever - affects the heart and joints.
There are other things that can help reduce pain and alleviate symptoms as well.
One easy remedy for sore throat is gargling with warm saltwater. Half a teaspoon of salt can be mixed into a glass of warm water. Too much salt in the mixture, however, could further dry out the membranes of the throat.
It is also important not to swallow the salt. Users should simply rinse the mouth with the saltwater and spit it out. People with a sore throat may want to consider adding a teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar to their saltwater gargle, as it has antibacterial properties.
People with sore throats could also add a spoonful of honey or lemon to a warm drink, which can help to soothe the throat.
Other ingredients that people can add to warm water to soothe a sore throat include sage, turmeric, and goldenseal. However, people should note that more research is needed on the health effects of these herbs.
As hot fluids can help to thin and drain mucus and keep people hydrated, soup may also be effective.
Although not everyone finds it very pleasant to do so, some people find chewing on a raw clove of garlic helps sore throat. This may be because garlic contains a compound called allicin that has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
People should not make the mistake of thinking cooked garlic is an equally effective alternative to eating the raw ingredient. Allicin is activated by chewing, chopping, or crushing garlic, but is deactivated by heat. As a result, cooking garlic actually lowers its healing potential.
People can use sprays to numb the pain of a sore throat. These sprays, which are available over the counter, include dyclonine and phenol.
Commonly available painkillers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen may also help. Caregivers should avoid giving aspirin to children or teenagers.
Prescription medicines such as antibiotics are not usually used to treat sore throat. Research shows that the use of antibiotics only shortens the duration of symptoms by about 16 hours overall.
Children and teens are more at risk of getting a sore throat than adults. Exposure to someone else with sore throat, having irregularly shaped or large tonsils, or having a weak immune system can all increase risk of sore throat.
Sore throats are sometimes caused by the Streptococcus group of bacteria. This type of sore throat is called strep throat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20-30 of every 100 sore throats in children are strep throat. Among adults, strep throat accounts for 5-15 out of every 100 sore throats.