The onset of an itchy sore throat can quickly turn a good day into a bad one. With a painful, scratchy throat, it can be hard to focus on work, be present with family, or enjoy fun activities. You also might be nervous about spreading an illness to others. 

If sore throat symptoms persist or become more severe, it’s a good idea to make a doctor’s appointment. But there are many at-home remedies you can try first to help you recover from a sore throat. 

Sore Throat Causes and Symptoms 

The symptoms of a sore throat include pain or a scratchy sensation in your throat. It might feel worse when you try to swallow or speak. Sometimes the discomfort travels to your inner ears as well. 

Some sore throats make your tonsils appear red and swollen. You might also notice the sound of your voice changes — it might sound muffled, hoarse, or scratchy. 

Most sore throats are caused by viral or bacterial infections. A virus is the most common culprit. In this case, your sore throat is likely the first sign of an oncoming cold. As your body fights off the virus, you might have other symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, or congestion. 

If the sore throat isn’t a symptom of a cold, it could be caused by pollution, smoking, allergies, or extremely dry air conditions. 

Check out this checklist to figure out the cause of your sore throat > 

Regardless of the cause, you can seek sore throat treatment at home to find quick relief.

At-Home Sore Throat Remedies

As you treat the symptoms of throat irritation, be sure to avoid making the problem worse. Avoid toxins and irritants like smoking of any kind or using harsh cleaning products. 

Cleaning with harsh chemicals (especially sprays) can lead to accidentally inhaling the product, which might irritate your throat. If you need to clean — especially if allergies are causing your symptoms — wear a mask or face covering to prevent inhalation. 

It’s important to remember that a sore throat is a symptom of your entire body fighting off an illness. Treat your entire body like it’s sick: avoid alcohol, get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and drink plenty of water. Give your body the best possible chance to fight off the cause of your sore throat. 

Then try these tested and effective ways to relieve a sore throat at home. 

1. Hot Liquids 

Sipping on hot liquids can sooth throat irritation almost instantly. Make a cup of herbal tea like Chamomile. As you sip, inhale the steam to lubricate your sinuses. You might add honey to your tea, or simply heat up some water and add honey to that. 

Honey coats your throat to reduce irritation, and has antibacterial properties that will help your body fight off the cause of your sore throat. 

Lemon is another option. Packed with Vitamin C, lemon can boost your immune system and help break up mucus in your sinuses. Squeeze a wedge of lemon into hot water and inhale and sip. To combine all these benefits into one, make Chamomile tea with lemon and honey. 

If you’re craving something savory, soup will soothe your sore throat and provide much-needed nutrients. Soup made with bone broth is particularly beneficial. Bone broth supports your immune system and gut health. 

As the warm liquid soothes your sore throat, the naturally-occurring collagen, gelatin, and amino acids in bone broth repair your digestive tract and provide your body with energy to fight off the underlying cause. 

2. Humidity and Steam 

Humid air helps soothe irritation in your throat and relieve sore throat symptoms. If you have a humidifier, turn it on its highest setting and place it near where you sleep or spend the majority of your day. 

You can also make your bathroom into a temporary steam room. Take a hot shower or bath and stay in the bathroom with the doors and windows closed as you breathe in the steam. 

3. Rest Your Voice 

Speaking a great deal can irritate your throat and prolong sore throat symptoms. As much as possible, rest your voice and avoid talking, singing, and especially yelling. 

This might be tricky when working a job with a lot of phone calls and video meetings. See if you can reschedule or send emails instead of talking to give your voice a rest.

Remember: the more you slow down when you’re feeling sick, the faster you’ll recover and be able to get back to work. Sometimes it’s worth it to take that sick day

4. Lozenges or Ice Chips 

Sucking on cough drops or lozenges helps your body produce mucus, which coats your throat and helps relieve dryness and irritation. Stock up on lozenges, especially those with healing ingredients. 

If you don’t have lozenges, try sucking on ice chips instead. The cold can help reduce inflammation.  

5. Gargle with Salt Water 

This age-old sore throat remedy may kill bacteria causing your symptoms. Gargling with salt water is also known to loosen congestion in your sinuses and ease pain from a sore throat. 

Mix half a teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Be sure the water isn’t too hot or you could irritate your throat further. Gargle for a few seconds and repeat once a day. 

You may prefer using a Neti Pot instead. Resembling a small tea pot without a lid, Neti Pots have been used for generations as an at-home treatment for congestion. 

While gargling with salt water flushes our your throat, a Neti Pot reaches even further into your sinuses by flushing water through your nostrils. 

Many Neti Pot kits include packets of sterile saline to mix with warm water as well as instructions for how to properly use it. 

6. Herbs 

There are several herbal supplements that might support your healing as well. Fenugreek — found in seeds, oil, or tea form — has been used as a natural throat irritation treatment for generations. 

Marshmallow root may also do the trick. Make tea with dried marshmallow root to ease pain and scratchiness. If you have diabetes, check with your doctor before taking marshmallow root. It might cause a drop in blood sugar. 

Slippery elm might also relieve your sore throat symptoms. Go to your local health food store to find powdered slippery elm that you can mix with water and drink. The herb forms a gel that coats your throat and eases irritation. You might also try lozenges that contain slippery elm. 

Before taking, check with your doctor that slippery elm won’t decrease the absorption rates of other medications you’re on. 

6. Over the Counter Treatments 

If your at-home treatments aren’t cutting it, try over-the-counter throat pain medicine. Sore throat and cough relievers contain medications safe to take without a doctor’s visit that could bring you quick relief. 

If you think your sore throat is the result of an allergic reaction, try taking an antihistamine to relieve the irritation. 

When Should You Go to the Doctor for a Sore Throat?

If you’re still experiencing symptoms after trying these at-home treatments, it might be time to see a specialist. You might make an appointment with an ENT — an Ear Nose and Throat specialist — if your sore throat is severe and persists for longer than a week.

You also might need to see someone if the pain travels to your ear or causes trouble swallowing, breathing, or opening your mouth. 

More concerning symptoms include: 

  • Coughing up blood or noticing blood in your saliva
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • White patches on the back of your throat or a rash 
  • High fever (over 101 degrees)
  • Losing your voice for more than a few days  

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment. 

Consult a myCallADoc ENT

When your sore throat symptoms don’t resolve themselves with at-home remedies, it’s time to see a doctor. myCallADoc offers convenient medical care right from home, either with a general practitioner or an ENT specialist. 

Our ENT doctors are available 24/7 for exams, advice, and treatment. You can make an appointment and see a qualified doctor without worrying about infecting anyone else — myCallADoc appointments are telehealth visits done over video call, right from the convenience of your home. 

If you don’t have health insurance, that’s okay. We offer affordable health coverage to everyone, regardless of insurance coverage. 

See how we can serve you with online general medicine services >  


This article is not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a health and wellness plan.

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