Prevent and Cure a Sore Throat


There are many causes of a persistent or reoccurring sore throat. It is often due to the common cold, the flu (influenza) or a bacterial infection (strep throat). Finding out the cause is important so that the correct treatment plan can be put into place.

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Natural Home Remedies to Provide Pain Relief from a Sore Throat

Natural Remedy What experts say about them
For explanation and recommended doses to use, see our detailed article Natural Remedies for Sore Throat.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal (What's this?)
Sage leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal 
Slippery Elm
(Ulmus rubra)
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal 
(Zingiber officinale)
Apple Cider Vinegar Helpful 
Cinnamon Bark Helpful 

Natural Home Remedies to Enhance the Immune System to Speed Up Healing

Many natural remedies do not directly provide pain relief from throat soreness but they aer used to boost the immune system.This is a necessary step to allow the mucous membrane in the throat area to heal quickly.

These natural remedies have antiviral and antibacterial properties that can be helpful in killing off the germs that cause throat soreness.

See the article on Immune System Boosters to discover the best natural remedies can be used to support healing throat soreness.

Facts and Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What are some symptoms and how long does it last?

Symptoms of soreness in the throat can include:

  • pain in the back of the throat
  • pain during swallowing of food or saliva
  • scratchy feeling in the back of the throat
  • feeling of dryness or a lump
  • pain may range from annoying to severe pain

Most people can easily tell if they have soreness in the throat. It may feel like it's coming for the entire back of the throat or just one-sided or on one spot only.Often soreness in the throat may indicate possible bacterial or viral infections (see table below) so watch out for signs and symptoms such as sinus problems, ear ache, swollen glands (tonsils), post nasal drip, cough and fever.

It may be acute (short-term) or chronic (persistent and long-term). Acute throat soreness usually last anywhere from three to seven days for most people. Acute throat soreness is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Chronic throat soreness is usually caused by other health problems (see table below).

If it last longer than three weeks, then it may indicate something else such as an allergy problem. Seek medical advice if this is the case.

What are some common causes of a sore throat?

The two main causes of throat soreness are from viruses and bacteria. By far, viruses cause over 90% of all cases of sore throat.

Viral Common types and their description
Common Cold &
The Flu
Most cases (over 90%) of soreness in the throat can be traced to a viral infection. It is often a result of the common cold or the flu (both of which are caused by a virus).

Once these viral infections are cured, the throat soreness will resolve completely within 7 days for most people.
Mononucleosis (Kissing Disease) This is a common viral infection causing soreness in the throat in adults. This condition commonly causes severe throat pain.
Adenoviruses This virus can cause sore throat as well as ears and lungs infection. This infection typically last up to seven days and may also include symptoms such as runny nose, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting and rashes.

Bacterial Common types and their description
Strep Throat This is the most common bacteria (Streptococcus) that causes soreness in the throat. It accounts for up to 10% of all cases.

This infection seems to attack children of school age. This condition most likely requires a visit to your family doctor since, in a small percentage of people, they may develop an infection that damages the heart valves (rheumatic fever) or cause other health problems.

Antibiotic (usually penicillin) is prescribed to cure this infection.
Gonorrhea This sexually transmitted disease (STD) can result from the gonorrhea bacterial that is transmitted by an infected person performing fellatio (oral stimulation of the penis). Antibiotics will be required to cure this infection.

Other non-contagious types
Others Causes

There are numerous possible causes for a sore throat. If bacterial or viral infections are ruled out, below is a list of other causes of throat soreness.

  • a sign of allergies (hay fever)
  • environmental problems (such as dryness caused by air conditioners)
  • dust
  • chronic coughing / excessive or forceful coughing
  • bronchitis (acute)
  • sinus infection (sinusitis)
  • animal dander (dog and cat allergies)
  • toxic chemicals in the air
  • smoke
  • cancer of the throat
  • yeast infection / candida 
  • acid reflux from the stomach
  • irritating foods (spicy food or food allergies)
  • dehydration (for example, when you first get up in the morning)
  • insufficient saliva production (dry mouth caused, possibly, by prescription medications)
  • breathing through your mouth rather than through the nose (the nose humidifies the air you breathe in)
  • Hormonal imbalance (for example, estrogen)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • mold allergies
Luckily, unlike the sore throat caused by virus and bacteria, this type of sore throat is not infectious. You cannot get it from another person or pass it to someone else.

Many of these causes tend to cause chronic, reoccurring and persistent (usually low-grade) sore throat.

What are some of the best home remedies for treating a sore throat?

In addition to using natural remedies, here are some helpful home remedy tips and suggestions you can also try to get pain relief from throat soreness.

  • Gargle with lukewarm salt water. Mix about 1 teaspoon of table salt in a cup (250 mL) of water and gargle several times a day.

  • Drink water to prevent dehydration. Avoid acidic juices and soda beverages.

  • Quit smoking

  • If it's due to the cold or flu, get sufficient rest to allow your body (and throat) to heal

  • Humidify the room you sleep in with a cool mist or warm mist humidifier. (A warm mist humidifier tends to heat the room up.) 30% to 50% humidity is the most comfortable range and closer to the 50% humidity provides the best comfort.

  • Eat light meals and drink soup that is not too spicy (although a bit of spice might help to give some relief from pain). Definitely avoid chilly and very spicy foods.

  • Avoid deep-fried foods such as fried chicken and french fries. They can further irritate the throat.

What can I do to prevent a sore throat?

Keeping your immune system in top condition is one of many ways to prevent this from happening. As well the following suggestions can be helpful in preventing you from developing a sore throat from a variety of causes.

  • Maintain hygiene by washing hands.

  • Don't share spoons, forks and knives.

  • Try to keep your distance with someone who has infections or a sore throat.

  • Get enough rest (to ensure your body and immune system is in a healthy state).

  • Eat nutritious foods and increase intake of fruits and vegetables.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Keep the air you breathe as high quality as possible. Avoid the smoke from smokers and exhaust from vehicles.

  • Keep the humidity (in your bedroom especially) at a comfortable level by using a humidifier. The best range is between 30% and 50% of moisture. In the winter, the humidity in the air you breathe can drop to an uncomfortable level (below 30%). Buy a humidity monitor if necessary to find out.

  • If you have allergies (hay fever), consider investing in an air filter for your bedroom (at least) that uses a HEPA filter. This will keep the air in the room as clean as possible.


Updated: May 29, 2010