Since most sore throats from infections are due to viruses, antibiotics -- used for bacteria -- are not usually needed to speed recovery from a sore throat. Some sore throats, such as that with strep throat, do require an antibiotic. Check with your doctor to be sure.
- Get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids.
- Take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen for pain relief.
- Suck on a zinc lozenge. The jury is still out, but some studies show zinc can relieve sore throats and other cold symptoms.
- Gargle with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per glass of water).
- Suck on throat lozenges or hard candy.
- Suck on frozen treats (such as Popsicles).
- Use a humidifier.
- To help relieve the pain, apply a warm heating pad or compress to your throat. You can also try a warm chamomile poultice: Mix 1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers into 1 or 2 cups boiling water; steep for five minutes, then strain. Soak a clean cloth or towel in the tea, wring it out, then apply to your throat. Remove the cloth when it becomes cold. Repeat as often as necessary.
- A salt plaster may also help provide relief. Mix 2 cups sea salt with 5 to 6 tablespoons lukewarm water. The salt should be damp, but not wet. Place the salt in the center of a dishtowel, then roll the towel along the longer side. Wrap the towel around your neck; cover it with another dry towel. Leave on for as long as you wish.
- Try steam inhalations to ease the pain. Run very hot water in a sink. With a towel draped over your head to trap the steam, lean over the sink while the water is running. Breathe deeply through your mouth and nose for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day.