How to Soothe a Sore Throat

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NEWS FOR HEALTHY LIVING

Self-Care

Most of us won't make it through the winter without getting at least one scratchy throat. When a viral or bacterial invader attacks the cells lining the throat, immune system cells rush to the scene, inflaming the tissues. Here's how you can make yourself feel better.

To reduce swelling, take ibuprofen or aspirin. Gargling with warm salt water will also help.
Keep your throat moist by drinking lots of warm liquids. Ginger tea is especially comforting. Steep one tablespoon of grated fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water, and add honey and lemon to taste. Eucalyptus works, too; use a few teaspoons of crushed leaf per cup.
Suck hard candies or over-the-counter throat lozenges. Slippery elm lozenges, sold in health food stores, are a good choice. But avoid the many products containing benzocaine, dyclonine hydrochloride, or hexylresorcinol; all are local anesthetics that, by numbing the throat, can mask the signs of a serious infection.
Get plenty of rest so your system can rout the bug. At night use a warm air humidifier.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If your throat is no less sore after three days, or if you have a fever higher than 101, yellow or white patches on your tonsils, or swollen glands in your neck, your physician should check for a strep infection. If swallowing is a struggle, call your doctor immediately.

--MARY PURPURA

ILLUSTRATION (COLOR)

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By Christie Aschwanden; Susan Freinkel and Mike Mason

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