You can’t talk, it’s difficult to swallow and you have that icky feeling in your throat. Sorry to break it to you, but you’ve caught yourself a sore throat.
It might not be a full-blown cold, but the soreness in your throat is enough to leave you out of commission for a few days at least, and getting relief seems next to impossible.
A sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is an inflammation of the pharynx (the back of the throat between your tonsils and voice box) and it can be caused by many things, including viruses, yeast and bacteria, the College of Family Physicians of Canada says.
Instead of rushing to the pharmacy for some sort of syrup, however, there are plenty of foods and drinks in your fridge and pantry that can help soothe that sore throat.
But what should you reach for – something hot or cold?
According to registered dietitian Andy De Santis, both work fine, it just depends on the person, but drinking plenty of fluids is key.
“Drinking plenty of fluids is a wise strategy when dealing with sore throats as keeping your throat moist may help from a comfort perspective,” he says. “It will also help keep you hydrated, which is an important consideration, especially when you’re sick.”
Keep foods soft and make sure they have an easy-to-swallow texture, registered dietitian Nicole Osinga adds.
Some may find relief in ingredients like honey, lemon, ginger, turmeric and sage, but De Santis says there isn’t enough evidence to suggest they are all that effective.
“Some people may get relief from these ingredients,” he says. “The good thing about them is that they are all safe to use so even if they don’t work, it really isn’t that big of a deal.”
For a better chance at relief, try tea for a warm option or popsicles if you’d rather cold.
Wheat germ and pumpkin seeds may also help with relief as they are high in zinc, which helps with cell growth and the immune system, Osinga adds.
Avoid stuff like alcohol, caffeine, very spicy foods and acidic foods (like tomatoes and citrus). They are all potential irritants that should temporarily be avoided when dealing with a sore throat, De Santis, says.
Also, skip crackers, crusty bread and other dry snack foods until your throat feels better, Osinga says.
As well, be wary of herbal remedies, De Santis adds, as they may interfere with medication in some cases.
If your sore throat is severe and persists for more than a week, De Santis says it’s best to see your doctor.