Posted: September 2023
(2 Minute Read)
When dealing with persistent and stubborn throat pain, choosing the right mix of treatments for a sore throat is crucial for finding relief. We're here to offer advice and insights into various natural remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications to take for sore throat relief, all found at Rite Aid.
Sore throats can be painful and inconvenient because they can hinder your ability to speak at work, enjoy family conversations or laugh with friends during a movie. The pain, scratchiness and irritation you experience often worsen when you swallow, making it uncomfortable to eat or drink.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Sore throats caused by a virus resolve on their own and their symptoms can be eased with over-the-counter products and natural remedies. However, strep throat (streptococcal infection), which is a less common condition caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics.
Fortunately, many sore throats are easy to treat with simple OTC medication or household items. However, should your sore throat become severe, persist for a week without improving, or if you experience difficulty swallowing or breathing, the Mayo Clinic suggests making an appointment with your doctor. When it comes to children, they should see a doctor if a sore throat doesn't go away with the first drink of water in the morning, and should seek immediate medical care if they have difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, or unusual drooling.
Throat lozenges can temporarily relieve a sore throat, particularly menthol lozenges, which can gently numb the tissue in your throat. Sucking on candy and cough drops can also provide temporary relief by increasing saliva production, which functions as a lubricant. However, proper throat lozenges provide more long-lasting relief than candy and cough drops.
If the pain is not severe, you may not require any pain relievers for your sore throat. But, if you do, pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) could be helpful. The Mayo Clinic advises never giving aspirin to children or teenagers.
While general OTC pain medications provide general pain relief throughout the body, throat sprays provide targeted relief. By using a sore throat spray, medication is applied directly to the sore throat so it can immediately numb the pain.
If a cough accompanies your sore throat, then you may want to take a cough syrup that includes sore throat pain relief. However, if you're only experiencing a sore throat, and you're not coughing, cough syrup may not be a necessary medicine to take for sore throat pain. It's also important to not take a combination cough and sore throat product along with a separate pain reliever, as you may be doubling up on ingredients.
While OTC pain relievers, lozenges, sprays and liquids are often go-to treatments for a sore throat, many natural and at-home remedies may be effective. Consider the following:
Staying well-hydrated can help ease a sore throat, and drinking warm liquids tends to provide more relief than drinking room-temperature or cold liquids. Certain teas are particularly effective at calming sore throats. Peppermint teas (which contain naturally occurring menthol) can be soothing and have the added benefit of freshening your breath. Chamomile tea can also help soothe a sore throat and may even relieve inflammation.*
Swirl a bit of natural honey into your tea or warm water for sore throat relief. Honey also has the added benefit of being a natural cough suppressant.
For a really stubborn sore throat, add salt to warm water and gargle with it. Doing so will help relieve your throat (including the tougher-to-reach back of your throat), but be sure not to swallow the salty solution. It may not be dangerous, but doing so would be unpleasant. According to the American Osteopathic Association, gargling with salt water every hour can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
Not only is baking soda an extremely affordable ingredient used for baking and natural home cleaning, but it's also helpful for sore throats. Though saltwater gargling is more common, gargling with baking soda water can provide relief for a sore throat, and it can also kill bacteria. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt into 1 cup of warm water, gargle three to four times daily, and rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, steam and humidity can help relieve pain associated with a sore throat because it can help loosen mucus and moisturize the throat. Hot showers are helpful, but for longer-lasting steam support, go with a proper humidifier.
Sore throats are unpleasant and inconvenient, but they don't necessarily have to be long-lasting. By treating your sore throat early with OTC options and home remedies, you can soon be back to your normal self.
Written by: Cassandra Brooklyn
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
These articles are intended for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in these articles. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or medication regimen.