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Trying to fall asleep with a sore throat is like trying to be productive when Game of Thrones is on. It just ain’t gonna happen. Your Friendly Public Health Pharmacist is going to help you find fun, convenient ways to cure a sore throat and catch some Zzzzs.
In Part 3 of the November Cold Series, How to Choose the EXACT Cold Medicine You Need, I mentioned that pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, aspirin), and Chloraseptic spray can all help a sore throat feel better. But these medications are not safe for everyone, including some children.
Luckily, you probably have several possible solutions lying around your house.
Here are 5 household items you can use to ease a sore throat long enough for you to fall asleep easily.
The studies go back and forth about how effective zinc is for treating a cold, although many agree that zinc lozenges are an effective way to reduce pain from a sore throat.
As a pharmacist, I do not use or suggest supplements that are not verified by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Since no zinc lozenges are USP-verified, what’s the next best thing? Grab a few hard candies! The saliva will help your throat feel better.
Kid-friendly? NO. Lozenges and hard candies can be a choking hazard for children.
Let’s be real, do you need an excuse to eat ice cream? It may seem odd, but very cold foods can also soothe a sore throat.
Kid-friendly? Ice and skinny popsicles may be a choking hazard for young children, but ice cream is a YES!
YFPHP, you are always talking about this dang humidifier. That’s because IT WORKS! I’m sorry y’all but the cool mist humidifier is just that necessary.
Remember how I mentioned cool mist humidifiers can help reduce coughing, especially at night?
Well, in the same way they help reduce coughing, they can also ease a sore throat.
I use this one in my 1-year-old son’s room every night, and it helps us all sleep better.
I talk in more detail about this Heaven-sent machine in this post on adult- and kid-friendly cold home remedies.
Warm water and salt are my absolute favorite sore throat relief. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm water, and gargle before bed. (You can gargle anytime you want, but I find it most relaxing and most helpful before bed.)
Kid-friendly? For kids younger than 6, NO. They may not be able to gargle correctly. It may be a good (and fun!) option for older kids who can gargle well.
Warm tea with honey and lemon are great for soothing a sore throat. Warm liquids in general, such as broth or warm water can help too.
Kid-friendly? Babies under 12 months old cannot have honey. For older children, YES these are options. Just make sure the liquids are not too hot.
Do you have any other tricks you use at home to ease a sore throat? Share in the comments below!
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9 Natural Ways to Relieve Sore Throat Pain
Honey and Lemon
Don’t give this one to a child under one year old simply because they’re not supposed to have honey at that age. In a child under 12 months old, bacteria spores found in honey could cause infant botulism.
After the one-year mark, honey isn’t really a concern, and a drink made up of warm water, honey, and a splash of fresh lemon juice can do the trick. Try:
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- ½ Tbsp lemon juice
Honey is sweet, so kids love it. It’s there for more than the flavor, though. It’s antibacterial, contains antioxidants, and can coat the throat to offer some relief. The lemon’s there to break up mucus, and the warmth of the water will feel good on a scratchy throat.
The detox tea may not go down as easily as lemon and honey for younger kids, but you can give it a try (maybe even add a little honey to sweeten it and take out the cayenne). Older kids may love it–either for the taste or because it makes them feel grown up to sit around drinking spicy tea. You can even give your kids this tea before they complain of a sore throat. If something’s going around at school but they haven’t caught it yet, use this tea to boost their immune system.
Gargling with Salt Water
Simple enough for kids around age 5 or 6 and up, right? You only need about ½ tsp of salt for a cup of warm water. Make sure the salt’s dissolved and have your child gargle with it and spit it out. If you often catch your kid goofing off in front of the sink, gargling when they should’ve been done brushing their teeth minutes ago, they’ll probably love the opportunity to try this natural sore throat remedy.
Peppermint (or Peppermint Tea)
Giving peppermint oil to a child or applying it directly to their skin can be harmful, but adding a little to a diffuser or steam (discussed below) could help relieve sore throat pain. Another option is peppermint tea, like Two Leaves Tea’s organic one. The peppermint has a soothing effect on the throat, the menthol works as an expectorant to break up mucus, and the warmth of the tea itself feels amazing on a scratchy throat. You can even sweeten it up with honey and increase the benefits in the cup.
Marshmallow root, or althaea, has been used as food and medicinally for centuries. Though this is far from a quick fix (ideally, you steep it overnight, then strain and drink it) it coats the throat and reduces irritation. Use 1 Tbps of dry marshmallow root in a cup of boiling water.
Marshmallow root is generally accepted as safe for children, but it can interfere with some medications and affect blood sugar, so you should check with a health practitioner before going this route.
Echinacea and Sage
A mix of Echinacea and sage (in spray form) has been shown to be as good at relieving sore throats as a mix of chlorhexidine/lidocaine after three days of use. Both herbs have been used for warding off sickness for centuries. Echinacea boosts the immune system and helps fight off colds while sage helps break up mucus and acts as an antiseptic.
Only children 12 and over should use Echinacea, since it’s been linked to the risk of severe allergic reaction. If your kids are old enough, you can pick up the spray at the health food store or online.
Steam with Essential Oils
Add a little essential oil to hot water and let your child breathe in the steam. For best results, drape a towel over his or her head and the bowl. Try:
- German chamomile
Of course this isn’t the best choice for younger children because of the proximity to very hot water and the risk of an accident. For more information about steam inhalations with essential oils, take a look at Untrained Housewife’s guide.
Lots of Water
Getting your child to drink enough water is always important, but that hydration is especially critical when they’re ill. Staying hydrated will help fight off the bacteria or wash away allergens that are causing the sore throat. The amount of water a child needs varies just like the amount for adults. It depends on activity level, temperature, and climate, and it’s also affected by the amount of watery fruits and vegetables in his or her diet. If the urine is mostly clear or light yellow, they’re probably getting enough water.
If your kid’s not a fan of plain water, you can always add a little flavor with crushed berries, cucumbers, lemon, orange, etc. Fill a pitcher with fresh water and add your fruit, then keep it in the refrigerator. The longer it’s there, the more flavorful it will become.
Vegan Hot Chocolate
What kid doesn’t like hot chocolate? The warmth from our mostly raw vegan hot chocolate recipe will soothe a sore throat without increasing mucus production.