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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