Pharyngitis is the medical term for an infection or inflammation in the back of your throat (pharynx) that causes constant discomfort, pain and scratchiness in the throat. Pharyngitis can be acute and heal within three to seven days, while chronic pharyngitis can last up to several weeks.
Pharyngitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection like the common cold virus, and less frequently by a bacterial or fungal infection. It can also be caused by mechanical, chemical or thermal irritation.
Risk factors for pharyngitis include having a cold or the flu, close contact with someone who has a sore throat or cold, smoking, frequent sinus infections, allergies and dry air.
A sore throat is the most common symptom and may be mild or severe. Other symptoms of pharyngitis vary depending on how inflamed your throat is.
They may include scratchy throat, cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, rashes on the skin, swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, fatigue, trouble swallowing and loss of appetite.
On rare occasions, pharyngitis caused by a bacterial infection can lead to tonsillitis, ear infection, sinus infection, throat abscess and abscess behind your tonsils.
Most cases of pharyngitis get better on their own within a week without medication. Some simple home remedies can help ease your symptoms to make you feel more comfortable until the infection is gone.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for pharyngitis.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular acidic drink with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help treat pharyngitis. It also has several nutrients and vitamins that help boost the immune system and balance the body’s pH level.
- Mix one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Add some honey and then drink it slowly. Drink this tonic at least once or twice daily until you start feeling better.
- You can also make a gargle solution with one teaspoon of salt, one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one cup of warm water. Mix it well and gargle with this solution every 15 minutes as necessary to relieve your symptoms.
2. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is another effective and popular home remedy for pharyngitis. The compound known as capsaicin in cayenne pepper acts as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial agent. This natural ingredient will reduce pain and swelling, and can even help fight the infection.
- Mix one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of hot water. You can also add one tablespoon of lemon juice. Gargle with this solution several times a day. Within a few days, you will start feeling better.
- Alternatively, mix one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a little honey and lemon juice in one cup of hot water. Sip this drink slowly a few times daily until you feel better.
3. Salt Water
Gargling with warm salt water is an effective way to treat a sore throat. Salt can even help kill the bacteria or virus causing pharyngitis.
- Mix three teaspoons of salt (preferably sea salt) in two cups of warm water.
- Gargle with this solution. Do not swallow it. Spit the water out after gargling.
- Do this several times daily for one to two days.
Honey is a traditional remedy for pharyngitis. Studies have confirmed that honey works better for upper respiratory infections compared to over-the-counter medicines. Due to its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, honey can even fight the infection and speed up the healing process.
- Mix equal amounts of honey and apple cider vinegar. Take one tablespoon of this mixture every four hours or as needed for pain relief.
- Alternatively, mix one teaspoon of honey in one cup of warm water. Add the juice of half a lemon to it and mix well. Sip it slowly throughout the day until your condition improves.
5. Slippery Elm
Another traditional remedy for sore throats is slippery elm. It contains mucilage, a substance that forms a slick gel when it comes in contact with water. This gel coats and soothes the irritated throat and helps reduce inflammation and pain.
- Add two teaspoons of the inner bark of slippery elm to two cups of boiling water. Cover and steep for five minutes, and then strain. Drink this tea twice daily for a few days.
- Slippery elm is also available as lozenges that you can easily find in the market.
Note: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid slippery elm.
6. Licorice Root
Licorice root has been used in alternative medicines for thousands of years to treat sore throats. It is known to have immune-stimulant properties.
- Add one tablespoon of crushed licorice root to one cup of hot water. Cover and steep for five minutes. Strain and add one teaspoon of lemon juice. Drink it once daily until you feel better.
- Alternatively, mix one-half tablespoon each of licorice powder and honey in a glass of lukewarm water. Drink it once daily until you completely recover.
- You can also chew licorice candies to soothe your irritated throat.
Note: These remedies are not recommended for those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, adrenal disease or reduced kidney or liver functioning.