Trying Rinses, Rubs and Sprays
Gargle with warm salt water. This is one of the oldest remedies for a sore throat, and it works like a charm. When your throat is sore, the mucous membranes are swollen and inflamed, causing the feeling of pain and scratchiness. Salt draws water from the mucous membrane cells, reducing swelling and helping your throat feel better. Make a saltwater rinse by mixing 1/2 teaspoon table salt with 1 cup of warm water.
- Don’t just rinse your mouth out with the saltwater – gargle it. Tip your head back and make sure it hits the back of your throat, since that’s the part that’s inflamed. Gargle for about 30 seconds before spitting out the rinse.
- You can gargle salt water up to 3 times per day. Using the rinse more often could end up drying out the mucous membranes too much, leading to increased irritation.
Make a hydrogen peroxide rinse. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic that can relieve throat irritation. Bottles of the substance are available over-the-counter at drugstores. To make a rinse, follow the instructions on the packaging, which will usually direct you to dilute a capful of hydrogen peroxide in a cup of water. Put the mixture in your mouth and swish it around so that it hits the back of your throat. Spit it out after one minute.
- Use a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide. This should be clear on the label of the bottle you buy.
- Hydrogen peroxide has a bitter taste. You can add a little honey to the mixture to make it easier to rinse if you’d like.
Use a vapor rub. Vapor rubs contain aromatic decongestants like menthol or peppermint that soothe the throat and help cut back on coughing. The decongestants are mixed with petroleum jelly to create an ointment. Pick up a vapor rub at the drugstore and rub some on your throat and chest to help you breathe more easily and cough less. You can also make your own vapor rub in the following way:
- Melt 1 tablespoon of beeswax in a double boiler
- Stir in 1/2 cup coconut oil.
- Add 10 drops of peppermint oil
- Pour the mixture into a glass container and let it cool before using.
Make a mustard plaster. Using a plaster to soothe a sore throat and relieve congestion is an old home remedy. It’s particularly useful if you have a deep cough and the soreness extends into your chest. Ground mustard is said to bring warmth and circulation to the chest and throat area.
- Mix 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed powder and 1 tablespoon of flour. Add enough water to make a thick paste.
- Spread the mixture onto a paper towel. Sandwich the paper towel between two clean pieces of cotton, such as dish cloths.
- Place the plaster on your throat and chest, making sure the mustard mixture never actually touches your skin.
- Leave it in place for 15 minutes, or until the skin becomes warm and rosy.
Use throat spray or lozenges. Throat spray and lozenges both contain ingredients that help to soothe the throat and open the nasal passages. Look for honey-based lozenges that contain menthol or peppermint. You can also get medicated spray or lozenges, which has a mild anesthetic to gently numb the throat area and relieve pain.
Take pain relief medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease the inflammation that leads to throat pain. Be sure to take no more than the recommended dosage on the packaging.
- Aspirin is associated with a rare condition called Reye’s syndrome, so be cautious when you give it to children.
- Children and teenagers recovering from the flu or chickenpox should never be given aspirin.