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How can I treat a sore throat?

Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

The common sore throat is well treated by a few natural recommendations:

  • Plenty of sleep: sleep is key for the immune system. Without sleep, it is hard for the immune system to mount a strong response.
  • Salt water gargles three times a day: use a buffered saline rinse (found in pharmacies).
  • Nasal rinses three times a day: these help decrease the mucus that drips into the throat. This mucus can help grow the bacteria that causes sore throat.
  • Zinc gluconate lozenges.
  • Golden seal (hydrastis) tincture: can be squirted into the throat, and also used in the above gargle. This tincture can be swallowed.
  • Drink plenty of water, fresh ginger tea and/or black tea with honey.

While I generally do not recommend antibiotics, in case strep in children under the age of 16, an antibiotic may be warranted. Suppressive medications like 'Nyquil' and pain relievers should only be reserved for times when the symptoms do not allow a person to properly sleep due to discomfort. These medications can hinder the immune system from clearing the bacteria sooner, and thus is not recommended.

For children and adults, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms of viral infections. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.

For a sore throat:

  • Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children).
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (check what is safe to give your child).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.