When most people get scratchy or sore throats, they often do one of three things: ignore it, believing it’ll go away, head for the home remedies or open the medicine cabinet, and only head to the doctor if their sore throat doesn’t get better.
What causes a sore throat?
Viruses and bacteria are the main causes of sore throats. A quarter of all sore throats are associated with the common cold which is either a rhinovirus or parainfluenza virus. Bacteria, specifically streptococcal bacteria, are the next most common cause of sore throats in both adults and children. This is often referred to as “strep throat” and can make babies and children very sick.1 A sore throat can also be a symptom of other more serious conditions such as Covid-19 disease, influenza or the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which can cause glandular fever.2,3
Natural, traditional and home remedies for your sore throat
As we’ve already noted, not only are sore throats quite common, but because they’ve been around for as long as time, every household has its tried and trusted remedies. Top among these is the common-sense advice to rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. To prevent making your sore throat worse, try not to smoke and, of course, avoid smoky places. To help soothe your sore throat, eat cool and/or soft foods like jelly or soups. Some adults find it helpful to gargle with warm, salty water which is not recommended for young children.
The most popular home remedy is probably sucking something – an ice cube, or ice lolly, a medicated throat lozenge or a boiled sugar sweet (hard candy).4 However, with babies and toddlers, be careful when you give them something to suck. As the ice cube or sweetie dissolves, it gets smaller and there is the risk that the child could choke.
Looking back to look forward – natural and traditional remedies
More and more people are looking to natural remedies rather than medications. Honey and lemon only make for a common flavour combination in sore throat lozenges, but together, are a centuries-old traditional remedy that combines the immune-boosting properties of both key ingredients. Sometimes ginger and or cinnamon are also added. Modern research is proving that these natural, traditional and home remedies are effective as pain relievers, immune boosters and/or have antiviral and antibacterial properties.5
Closer to home, recent research is proving that traditional African herbs like the pelargonium, or Umcka, can help to treat rhinosinusitis and the common cold.6
Medication and medical help for sore throats
Sometimes home and traditional remedies are not enough, and you need to find an over-the-counter painkiller. Cipladon 1000 or Cipladon 500 which are effervescent and dissolve in water will help.
If, however, that doesn’t help, your throat is very sore and doesn’t get better between 3 and 5 days, go and get medical help. In addition, you should go to the clinic or a health care professional if you have some, or all of, the symptoms in the list below which could sign of something more serious like strep throat or scarlet fever: 7,8
- difficulty swallowing, breathing or opening your mouth
- a high fever
- lost voice for more than 3 to 5 days
- blood in your saliva or coughing up blood
- swollen glands or lumps in your neck – this could be a sign of glandular fever
- a rash and/or white patches on the back of your throat
Disclaimer: The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.
- DerSarkissian, C., Reviewer. 2020 Why Do I Have a Sore Throat? [Online] Available from <https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/sore-throat-causes> 19/05/2022
- Flu Symptoms & Complications. Center for Disease Control [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm> 19/04/2022
- Glandular fever. NHS inform, Scotland [Online] Available from <https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/glandular-fever#about-glandular-fever> 19/05/2022
- Jacob, D., Uttekar, P S (Reviewer). 2022. 16 Home Remedies for Sore Throat. MedicineNet Inc [Online] Available from <https://www.medicinenet.com/home_remedies_for_sore_throat/article.htm> 13/10/2022
- Hewings-Martin, Y. 2017. Lemon, honey, and alcohol: Which is best for sore throat? Medical News Today [Online] Available from <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320261#> 13/10/2022
- Wong, C., Sweigard, J. (Reviewer). 2022. How Umcka Helps Fight With Cold Symptoms Verywell Health, Dotdash Meredith Group [Online] Available from <https://www.verywellhealth.com/umcka-for-colds-and-sore-throat-89082#> 13/10/2022
- Sore Throat. Centers for Disease Control an Prevention [Online] Available from <https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sore-throat.html> 19/05/2022
- Sore throat. NHS inform, Scotland [Online] Available from <https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/ears-nose-and-throat/sore-throat> 19/05/2022