Home Remedies for a Severe Sore Throat

The primary causes of sore throat are viral and bacterial infections, says the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), although allergies and sinus infections can also be contributors. Sore throats are extremely common, and rarely do people need to see a doctor when simple home remedies do the trick, says the Mayo Clinic. However, if a severe sore throat lingers for more than five to seven days, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, extreme fatigue and night sweats, you could have strep throat or infectious mononucleosis and should see your health care practitioner.

Diet and Liquid Intake

Keep well hydrated while you have a sore throat, advise Mayo Clinic experts. Water, soups and broths are preferable to soda and caffeinated beverages, which can increase dehydration. To make swallowing easier, use a straw to sip warm broths and fluids. Suck on small pieces of ice to sooth your throat and increase liquid intake. The Mayo Clinic suggests eating gelatin, which slides down your throat easily. One time-tested home remedy for a sore throat is honey and lemon juice, which can be added to a cup of hot water and cooled to room temperature. The honey coats and soothes your throat, while the lemon juice cuts the mucous.


The AAO advises gargling with salt water several times each day. Use 1/4 tsp. salt to every 1/2 cup of warm water, making sure the salt is dissolved. Mayo Clinic experts state this will not only make your sore throat feel better, but salt water is another way to clear out mucous. Integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil also points out that a solution of 1 part hot water to 1 part hydrogen peroxide can be used as well. Spit out the solution after you gargle–don’t swallow it.


Humidifying your environment keeps tender mucous membranes from drying out, especially during the night while you sleep. The AAO advises putting a humidifier or steamer in your bedroom. Make sure that the water in the humidifying device is changed frequently (once every three days, at minimum) to prevent growth of mold and bacteria.

Over-the-Counter Medications

To assuage the pain associated with a severe sore throat, the AAO advises reaching into your medicine cabinet for a nonprescription pain-reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. The American Academy of Family Physicians cautions you not to give pain relievers to children under the age of 2 without a pediatrician’s consent. Also, avoid giving aspirin to a child under the age of 18; in rare instances, this can trigger a medical condition known as Reye’s syndrome.

About this Author

Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She’s worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.