Once it develops, a sore throat can make it painful and difficult to swallow. When that happens, it's hard to know what to eat and drink.
Just the same, eating and drinking is important, because that's how the body gets the resources it needs to heal.
Eating and drinking the right things can also reduce the pain of a sore throat and may even speed the recovery process. Avoiding inappropriate foods can prevent some discomfort.
The best things to eat and drink with a sore throat are healthful, soft foods and soothing beverages with a nutritional or curative kick. These foods and drinks include:
- Frozen treats: Fruit-based sherbet and popsicles, and even plain ice chips can help soothe a throat that feels inflamed.
- Pomegranate juice: Studies have shown that pomegranate juice may ward off infection and reduce inflammation.
- Bananas: A soft and healthful fruit, bananas will be gentle on a sore throat.
- Chicken soup: Researchers have found that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties and help clear the airways, which can reduce sore throat symptoms.
- Sage: This herb has been used for healing purposes for centuries, and it may be helpful for sore throats.
- Turmeric: Used as a tea or in milk-based herbal blends. This spice is thought to have healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Honey: Tasty and soothing, researchers have also found this natural sweetener is effective at fighting infection and healing wounds.
- Ginger: This multi-faceted spice can be used in many forms, including teas and powders. In addition to preventing nausea and addressing many other ailments, studies have found that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that may help sore throats by reducing swelling and pain.
- Tea: Drinking a wide variety of warm, nonalcoholic teas and other beverages can help people with sore throats feel better.
- Smoothies and yogurt: Soft, moist foods that people can drink through a straw can help people get the nutrition they need while soothing their throats.
- Well-cooked vegetables: Carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and other vegetables can be helpful for people with sore throats, as long as they are cooked until they are tender.
- Scrambled eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein. When scrambled, they are usually soft enough for an inflamed throat to tolerate.
When a sore throat is making it difficult and painful to swallow, there are a number of foods and drinks to avoid. These include:
- Crunchy, hard foods: Foods that are likely to have a lot of sharp edges, such as crackers, dry toast, nuts, or raw vegetables, can make a sore throat more uncomfortable.
- Citrus fruits and juices: Even though many people turn to orange juice when they have a cold, doing so can actually make sore throats feel worse. Orange and other citrus juices and fruits are acidic, which means they can irritate the already tender surface of the throat.
- Sour, pickled, or brined foods: Foods made with vinegar or salt, such as pickles, can make the inflammation of a sore throat worse.
- Tomato juice and sauces: The acidic nature of tomatoes can make them a poor choice for people with sore throats.
- Irritating spices: While some spices may help a sore throat others, such as chilies, hot sauces, and nutmeg can make the inflammation worse.
- Alcohol: Drinks and mouthwashes that contain alcohol may cause stinging sensations in a sore throat. Alcohol is also dehydrating, which is not good for people with sore throats.
- Tobacco: Tobacco is hardly a food, but when suffering from a sore throat, it's best to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. People should also avoid smoking.
A number of different remedies can help ease the symptoms of a sore throat. These include:
- Staying hydrated: Drinking lots of nonalcoholic liquids can keep the throat from drying out and hurting more.
- Gargling: Rinsing the throat with warm salt water can reduce inflammation. Individuals should add salt to warm water in a ratio that works best for them.
- Staying cool: Avoiding very hot foods and drinks can limit additional throat irritation.
- Throat lozenges: Cough drops and even hard candies may provide relief.
- Over-the-counter painkillers: Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen can reduce symptoms. Due to the danger of Reye's syndrome, children under 18 should not take aspirin.
- Humidity: Dry air can make sore throats feel worse. Using a humidifier to keep the air moist can help.
Sore throats typically go away after a few days. If a person has a sore throat that lasts for 6 days or more, especially if it is accompanied by a fever, they are advised to see a doctor.
If a sore throat is caused by a virus, it can often be successfully treated with self-care and home remedies. The following symptoms are indications that a sore throat may be caused by a virus:
- runny nose
- raspy voice
- pink eye
Sore throats may also be caused by allergies and reactions to pollutants in the environment such as smoke.
When sore throats are caused by bacteria, they require medical treatment. Some adult cases of sore throat are due to strep throat, an infection caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria.
It can be difficult to tell whether a sore throat is dangerous or not. Due to the possibility of complications, strep throat requires swift diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional.
The following are common symptoms of strep throat. The more of them that an individual has, the more likely it is they have strep throat and need prompt medical care: