How to Kick a Sore Throat Without a Doctor Visit

It's fun to watch people in public these days. The instant hand sanitizer folks have totally capitalized on public fear of flu and are raking it in big time. Shoppers at the mall cower at every sneeze--they douse their babies with six wipees if anyone within fifty feet sneezes and glare mercilessly at offending coughers.  By all accounts the H1N1 flu is no picnic with dangerous spikes in temperature and virtual wipeout for several days.  Whether it be the flu, allergies, or just a scratchy throat, there are several ways to treat the winter nasties without incurring a $150 doctor bill.

1. Buy (or make) a humidifier.
These are as cheap as $14.99 from drugstore.com.  The arid air inside the house can keep your membranes overly dry, preventing congestion from draining properly.  A humidifier moistens the skin and nasal passages allowing you to breathe easier.  Keep your humidifier clean, though, to avoid generating mold in the air, which can actually make you sicker.  Another option is to take several hot showers each day or lean over a pot of boiling water.

2. Drink herbal tea.
Look for varieties that have a boost, like echinacea or licorice, and add honey to make it super soothing.  People who gargle with black tea extract twice a day have a higher resistance to the flu.  Visit the local natural foods store to take the herbs in a more concentrated form as a tincture.  

3. Spray some Chloraseptic.
While this doesn't seem to last long, a quick squirt of over-the-counter throat numbing spray can give you some momentary relief for just $6.95.  Just as with lozenges, they do nothing to cure your aching throat.  If you are still using the spray for a week, try something else or call your doctor.  

4. Chew some zinc lozenges.
There are mixed results on the effectiveness of zinc lozenges to reduce the duration of a cold.  Take them sparingly, as side effects could be potentially more harmful when used over time.  Look for lozenges that have zinc gluconate to prevent stomach irritation.  They are best to take when you are slightly congested with a runny nose.  Costs will run $6-$8

5. Grandma's warm salt water gargle.
She made you do it as a kid.  You hated it, but it actually made your scratchy throat feel better.  Some folks believe that bacteria cause most sore throats.  The salt water penetrates and dehydrates the bacteria, thus making it incapable of operating--the little buggers die of thirst.  Others say that removing bacteria won't do anything to reduce the swelling that causes the ache, but that the salt water eliminates the fluid build up.  Regardless of theory, it helps.  You'll need to gargle 6-8 times a day, drink plenty of fluids, and take vitamins to have the best success.

6. Drink.  A lot.
If we're honest, very few of us drink the recommended 8-10 cups of water each day for basic hydration.  You'll need more like 15 if you want to get serious about curing your sore throat.  Keep a tally on the refrigerator and set your watch to beep every hour to take a glass of water.  It is absolutely essential that you drink to keep things flowing.  

7. Eat garlic (the cloves, not the vitamins).
As vampirish as this may sound, eating garlic straight has amazing healing powers that stimulate the immune system.  Try zapping two cloves of garlic in the microwave for 20 seconds, chopping them up, and eating them on a cracker once a day.

Working in tandem, many of these remedies will keep your discomfort under control and keep you out of the doctor's office.  As with any sickness, if your symptoms persist or worsen over the course of a week, you'll need to bite the bullet and go in for a checkup.  

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14 Comments

The best method is to drink herbal tea in combination with honey.
Posted by Chris Taus
My favorite sore throat remedy is an herbal tea made of licorice root, marshmallow root, plantain leaf, goldenseal, ginger root and honey. For me this herbal tea brings relief to my sore throat
Posted by elynevay
Great post! I can attest to garlic's powerful antiviral properties as well as zinc and echinacea! At the first sign of a cold, I just chew up a garlic bulb and it usually chases away whatever's after me. Yes, it's strong and very hot, but so worth it!
Posted by Sally
Man, I can remember that saltwater, yuck! I will use it today but at no where near the concentration that Mom gave me (or at least it doesn't seem so bad!). A mild salt water is very good for your throat because it does kill bacteria but also promotes the flora needed in the mucus membrane to heal properly. Our bodies are just 'bags of salt water' so it only seems right. Salt water though is no where as nice to administer as honeyed tea but could possibly work better at promoting healing! Chef Brian
Posted by Black Mold
wow! green tea heals sore throat too? awesome. it's like everytime i read an article about green tea, i know more about it. really awesome.
Posted by organic japanese green tea
Good tips. It really is amazing how quickly, people with a sore throat, will go to their doctor for a prescription medicine.
Posted by Chiropractic Marketing
I've found that if you know why you have a sore throat you can treat it more effectively: With a sore throat due to coughing because of a post-nasal drip. Treat the drip first, with a natural, holistic allergy remedy. During and after the drip, hot herbal tea with honey, as mentioned above. With a sore throat due to coughing because of dusty air in your home: change your filter, dust, and vacuum. Use the humidifier, as above, and drink your tea. With a chronic cough that doesn't go away after 2 weeks.......SORRY, but you're going to have to see your doctor to rule out bronchitis asthma, COPD ( chronic respiratory disorder), or the cough as a warning sign of cancer.
Posted by Hope
Everything recommended here is ok except eat the garlic part.... My personal experience, I always mix honey in warm water with a little squeeze of lime. It works every time for me.
Posted by Nora Jeanne@Plus Size Maternity Clothes
The fact about herbs I loved is they're all works as natural remedies. So, those all alternative medicine for sore throat, especially the herbal tea is worth to try
Posted by Aurora the herbs medicinal
I have always found that eating some raw honey and having ginger tea really helps get rid of the sore throat. Sucking on cloves or having cloves tea helps to numb the area too.
Posted by Brandon
Some of us think that sore throat can be treated by masaching the throat with a warm cooked spoon, but that is just a beleive. The best method is to drink herbal tea in combination with honey. Ginger is also thought to treat sorethroat but still not scientifically proven.
Posted by Fongwen
Herbal Tea with honey are the most preferable. i have tried that myself
Posted by Fongwen
try Herb On cough drops, they're work really well and they're all natural. Check them out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G3Ipw5-hhM
Posted by john
RE: 4. Chew some zinc lozenges You don't want to chew zinc lozenges -- you want to let them dissolve in your mouth. I swear by zinc gluconate (e.g. Cold-EEZE, Zand) if (and only if) you start to take it at the first sign of a cold, which is usually a tickle in my throat. Typically, I see about a 60% drop in the duration and 50% reduction in the severity of the symptoms of a cold. Just last week, my son had a cold which had him down for five days and out of school for three. Then I got the tickle in my throat and started with the zinc gluconate. Because I started with the lozenges within 15 minutes of my first symptom, the cold lasted just three days and the symptoms were attenuated perhaps 80%. Of course, your YMMV....
Posted by Dacker