Why is it important to tackle a sore throat?
We’ve all been there – you feel fine one minute and then the next you get that ominous itchy, scratchy, sore feeling at the back of your throat. The back of the throat is one of the first lines of defence against infection and as a result, a sore throat is often one of the first signs that you are coming down with a cold or flu.
After this other symptoms soon develop as your body does it’s best to tackle the infection. You may experience a blocked or runny nose for example, as your body tries to flush out the problematic virus. Also, as a cold or flu virus prefers cold temperatures, a fever may develop as the body tries burning it out. From here it’s likely that sneezing, a cough and headaches will arise so you can see why it really pays to tackle a sore throat early on!
1 – Try Echinacea
If your sore throat disappears without resulting in a nasty cold or flu then the immune defences have done their job effectively however, if that infection is a little more stubborn then your body will need a helping hand to get rid of it.
Viral infections are the most common cause of a sore throat - they account for at least 65% of them. Unfortunately antibiotics are not an option in this instance as this medication is only effective against bacteria so you’ll need to find an alternative.
Sage has traditionally been used to treat a sore throat as it has astringent, antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. This can be combined with Echinacea which has antiviral actions but also helps boost the immune system too.
Our Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray contains fresh extracts of these herbs to help fight the viral infection. However, it also soothes a sore throat and prevents a full blown cold from developing.
2 – Gargle salt water
As well as herbal sprays, there are many other natural ways to reduce inflammation and help soothe a sore throat.
Gargling warm salt water is probably the oldest remedy for sore throats as salt has natural antibacterial properties. However, it also works to reduce inflammation by drawing out bacteria from the infected tissue lining your throat.
This is an easy remedy to put together when you have nothing else to hand, plus it doesn’t take too much effort to create which is ideal when you’re not feeling well. Simply mix one teaspoon of salt water into a tall glass of warm (not boiling) water.
3 – Add some honey
Honey mixed with warm water and lemon has long been used to treat a sore throat and for very good reason! This warm, thick liquid helps to soothe irritation in the back of the throat whilst the addition of vitamin C is known to give the immune system an added boost. Not only this, the steam from the drink could help to loosen mucus thus helping to ease a blocked nose, a problem that often accompanies a sore throat.
4 – Keep hydrated
Drinking lots of plain water not only keeps you hydrated when you’re ill, it also keeps the throat nice and moist. This should help calm any irritation in the area and may even keep additional symptoms like coughing at bay.
Cold water can be a little uncomfortable to drink when your throat is sore so make sure you opt for warm water instead.
5 – Have a hot drink
A warming drink such as Chamomile tea or our Echinaforce Hot Drink can offer immediate, soothing relief from a sore throat.
Chamomile tea is a good option because it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and astringent properties so it can help to reduce the severity of a sore throat as well as other cold symptoms.1 There are lots of varieties of Chamomile Tea on the market but one of our favourites is Heath and Heathers Organic Chamomile Tea which you can find over with our friends at Jan de Vries. This is made from 100% organic chamomile and is naturally caffeine free.
The Echinaforce Hot Drink on the other hand, combines fresh Echinacea and Elderberry to help soothe a sore throat and fight infection. This is a good option if you already have an infection and don’t want it to get worse or spread to those around you.
6 – Eat chicken soup
This is a delicious, comforting meal that will give you the nutrients you need when feeling under the weather. Also, chicken soup is something that slips down easily when there is pain in the throat, plus it is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to ease discomfort further.
However, if you don’t eat meat then simply swap a bowl of chicken soup for one that’s packed full of fresh veggies. Our carrot, lentil and coriander soup is a delicious option that will help you up your nutrient intake at a time when you need it most.
7 – Have a sweetie
Lozenges and hard boiled sweets can help soothe a sore throat by keeping the mouth moist. I’ve already spoken about the benefits of Echinacea so why not give our Echinacea Lozenges a try? These are sweet, soothing and give the immune system a much-needed boost too!
8 – Rest up
This might seem like an obvious one but it is still very important if you don’t want that sore throat to progress to a full-blown cold or flu. So, take some time out for yourself and make sure you are getting enough sleep too. Too little sleep can weaken the immune system and as a result, it becomes harder to fight infections. Adults generally need around 8 hours of sleep a night but if when you’re ill it can be beneficial to add an extra nap or two throughout the day to help you recover.
Originally published 2 February 2015 (updatated on 9 November 2018)