Sore throat or pharyngitis is one of the most common reasons why individuals visit their doctor. Even though it can be painful and annoying, consultation with a doctor is not really necessary. Most sore throats are caused by a virus that goes away on its own, like that of a cold or flu. Rarely, sore throats can be caused by a bacterial infection. In this case, medical consultation is required for antibacterial treatment.

The hallmark symptoms of sore throat are dry scratchy throat, and pain when swallowing. A person may have a sore throat along with other symptoms, depending on the cause of infection. If your sore throat is caused by a cold, most likely you will experience symptoms such as coughing, fever, runny nose, sneezing and body pains. Symptoms usually get better within a week if it is caused by common viral infections. Be wary of symptoms that would require you to see your doctor such as sore throat that lasts more than a week, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, high fever, skin rashes, hoarseness or cough that goes beyond two weeks, blood-tinged saliva or phlegm, recurring sore throats and excessive drooling.

Sore throats can cause some discomfort, but home remedies can help relieve symptoms, especially if it is caused by a virus. Here are some ways on how to manage it at home:

1. Drink lots of water and other fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeinated drinks at this time because it may only promote dehydration. It is essential to increase your fluid intake, to compensate for fluid lost during mucus production or fever. Fluids may also help thin secretions. Hot liquids can be helpful because it may lessen throat irritation, thus a warm soup or broth is recommended.

2. Gargle with warm water with salt to reduce swelling and promote comfort. Dissolve 8 fl oz of warm water with 1 tsp of salt, and gargle as often as necessary. It may be necessary to gargle more often if you have a postnasal drip.

3. Do not smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke, or other air pollutants. Smoke may aggravate a sore throat, and fumes from household cleaners or paints may also cause more irritation.

4. Try sucking on lozenges or sugarless candy. Sucking on lozenges and sugarless candy may stimulate saliva production, which can cleanse your throat. Lozenges may also numb the throat thus providing pain relief.

5. Use a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air. If you don’t have a humidifier at home, use a shallow container and fill it up with water. Place it in an area in your room where nobody can accidentally trip on it. Adding moisture to the air may help relieve your swollen air passages.

6. Utilize a home remedy that has been tested through time. Mix honey and lemon with a glass of hot water. Allow the mixture to cool down before taking it. Honey can relieve your sore throat, while lemon can help reduce mucus production.

Since most sore throats are caused by viral illnesses, it is helpful to know that you can take steps at home to relieve symptoms. Avoid taking antibiotics without your doctor’s approval because it may not alter the course of a viral infection. Aside from that, overuse of antibiotics may only result to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Children may also get sore throats, and it is even one of the common reasons why they miss school. While some home remedies may be applicable to them, it is still best to consult a health care provider before giving your child any over the counter medication.