It is a familiar feeling that gets in the way of a busy day. You suddenly notice that your throat feels scratchy and hurts when you swallow. It could be caused by a temporary irritations or something more serious, but the first thing you want is some relief.

Most sore throats are caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold and influenza. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that these throat problems are generally minor and go away on their own. Here are six ways to soothe your next sore throat:

1. Keep Your Throat Moist

A sore throat always 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. Non-herbal 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. 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: spit out the water after you gargle. Do not swallow it.

4. Cold Liquids and Popsicles

Warm salt water and hot tea help your throat, but so do cold liquids, ice chips and popsicles. Popsicles are especially helpful for young children - 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 may not be the easiest treatment to fit into your schedule, but if an infection caused your sore throat, you need rest in order to fight the cause of your sore throat. Also, use a humidifier or vaporizer when you sleep so that the air and your throat do not get too dry.

6. See a Physician If the Soreness Lasts Several Days

Some sore throats are caused by bacterial infections such as strep throat. A physician will take a throat swab to confirm this and prescribe an antibiotic, if appropriate. Patient First can perform instant strep tests while you are in the office and prescribe and dispense the appropriate medications, if needed. Our health care professionals can also offer advice on reducing the discomfort of a sore throat until the antibiotics begin to take effect, if an antibiotic has been prescribed.

Sore throats can also be caused by allergies, air pollution, muscle strain, second-hand smoke, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other irritants. The best way to protect yourself from a sore throat will also protect you from other medical maladies. Stay away from people with colds or other contagious diseases, and wash your hands often to fight the germs that cause these infections.