Does your throat feel scratchy or hurt when you swallow? These sore throat symptoms may be caused by a temporary irritation or something more serious. However, the first thing you want is some relief.

The same viruses that cause the common cold and influenza cause most sore throats. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that these throat problems are generally minor and go away on their own. In the meantime, here are six ways to help alleviate your symptoms.

1. Keep Your Throat Moist

A sore throat often seems worse in the morning because your throat gets dry overnight. Drink plenty of liquids and use lozenges, cough drops, or hard candies to stimulate saliva production. Brands with a cooling or numbing ingredient, like menthol or eucalyptus, may also help.

2. Enjoy Hot Tea and Soup

Tired of drinking water all day? A cup of herbal tea can help soothe a sore throat. Some teas also contain antioxidants that may fight infection and strengthen your immune system. There are also a lot of reasons to believe in mom’s old home-remedy, chicken soup, as well. This nutritional meal is easy to swallow and the sodium in the broth may contain anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Gargle with Warm Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water several times a day really does help, according to studies by the Mayo Clinic and other medical organizations. The warm salt water can reduce throat swelling, loosen mucus, and help flush out irritants. Remember to spit out the water after you gargle — do not swallow it.

4. Enjoy Cold Liquids and Popsicles

Warm salt water and hot tea soothe your throat, but so do cold liquids, ice chips, and popsicles. Popsicles are especially helpful for young children, as the cold acts as a temporary numbing agent to ease the discomfort. Over-the-counter throat sprays and pain relievers can also help with pain control.

5. Rest

It make not be the easiest treatment to fit into your schedule, but be sure to make time for rest to fight the infection that caused your sore throat Also, use a humidifier or vaporizer when you sleep to keep the air and your throat moist.

6. Take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin)

If the above have not helped resolve your symptoms, over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken. These medicines can also relieve other viral symptoms such as fever, body aches, and headache. Be sure to follow the instructions listed on the label.

If none of these tactics help soothe your throat’s soreness and it has lasted for several days, see a physician. Many irritants can cause a sore throat, including allergies, air pollution, muscle strain, second-hand smoke, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

However, some sore throats are caused by bacterial infections such as strep throat. A physician can take a throat swab to confirm this and prescribe an antibiotic, if appropriate. Antibiotics are usually only prescribed for a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. (Add closing statement that we are open and here to help)

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