October 14, 2019

Myth vs Fact: What Soothes a Sore Throat?

It’s that time of year where the weather fluctuates from warm to chilly and flu season is at its very start. For many of us, that adds up to dreaded throat aches. When you come down with a sore or scratchy throat, don’t fall for the old midwives’ tales. Let the doctors at Puget Sound Ear Nose and Throat give you advice on what actually soothes sore throats.

Myth vs Fact – Take a teaspoon of Honey


Adding a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or simply swallowing a spoonful, is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to sooth a cough. The thick honey coats the throat, soothing any rawness, and has also been known to improve sleep. Just keep track of how many spoonful’s you’re taking as the high amounts of sugar can have negative effects on your health and teeth!

Disclaimer: Giving honey to children under one year can be dangerous and should not be done as it could lead to infant botulism. Please see a doctor if your infant is experiencing a sore throat.

Myth vs Fact – Feed your cold with big meals


Eating large meals forces your body to split up its energy between fighting an infection and digesting your meal. Overeating could also lead to bloating and nausea, which will only worsen your overall discomfort.

When you’re under the weather, be smart about what you put in your body. You may notice your appetite decreases when you have a sore throat, not just from the pain of swallowing that may hit, but because your body is busy fighting off the illness. However, that doesn’t mean the answer is to stop eating. Choosing high-calorie, natural foods, like a smoothie or grilled veggies, will improve the way you feel and replenish your body with the energy it needs.

Myth vs Fact – Apple cider vinegar


It may seem unappealing to a scratchy throat, but a bit of apple cider vinegar has been used in folk medicine for centuries. Why does it work? The main active ingredient, acetic acid, fights the bacteria that’s causing your throat to ache.

To relieve throat pain, drink one cup of warm water mixed with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You can always add a teaspoon of honey as well.

Myth vs Fact – Chicken soup


The truth is, it doesn’t have to be chicken soup. When it comes to a sore throat, soup and other hot liquids have been shown to reduce inflammation and coughing, and provide extra hydration, which is crucial to recovery.

Warning: Stay away from cream-based soups like a New England clam chowder. The heavy dairy will thicken the mucus in your throat, worsening your symptoms.

Myth vs Fact – Tylenol and other acetaminophens


It’s certainly true that taking acetaminophens like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin, will help mask the symptoms of a sore throat caused by a viral infection, making this a fact. There will always be a supply of throat lozenges, numbing sprays and cough drops available at your local pharmacy that are proven and FDA approved to help a sore throat. Sore throats are common, so find the treatment that best relieves your symptoms.

However, this can also be a myth, as sore throats caused by bacterial infections (like strep throat) require other medications. Only antibiotics prescribed by your doctor will be able to help fight off a bacterial infection.

The good news is, only about 10% of sore throats are caused by bacteria. If you are experiencing symptoms like difficulty swallowing, fever or discoloring to your tonsils, see your doctor as soon as possible. This could be a sign of a bacterial infection and will most likely require a prescription. If you’re unsure, it’s best to see your doctor just in case.

If you have a question on how to soothe a sore throat, a doctor from Puget Sound Ear Nose and Throat can help. Schedule an appointment by calling (425) 775-6651 or visit our Contact Us page.