- Stir a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water, then gargle with the solution to reduce swelling. Repeat every few hours.
- Sip herbal tea. Suck on cough drops, lozenges, Popsicles, or even a spoonful of honey. These won’t necessarily quicken healing, but they can soothe your throat, and honey has an antiviral effect. Or use an antiseptic spray that contains phenol (such as Chloraseptic) to numb the area.
- Hit your doctor up for antibiotics. Most sore throats are caused by viruses; antibiotics are effective only against bacterial infections, such as strep throat.
- You don’t feel better (or you feel worse) after a day or two, or you see white spots on the back of your throat (a sign of strep).
- Your sore throat recurs frequently―a possible sign of chronic post-nasal drip or reflux, a condition in which acid travels up the esophagus and causes a burning sensation.