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.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the swelling of the pharynx and ease pain. Its antibacterial properties also help treat the infection by killing the virus and bacteria.
- Add one teaspoon of crushed ginger root to one cup of water. Boil it for five minutes. Strain and then add one tablespoon of honey and a few drops of lemon juice. Drink this hot tea two or three times a day.
- You can also chew on a small piece of fresh ginger root several times a day to recover quickly.
Another great remedy for pharyngitis is turmeric, which has powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mix one-half teaspoon each of turmeric and table salt in one cup of hot water. Gargle with the mixture twice a day.
- You can also mix one-half teaspoon of turmeric and a dash of black pepper powder in a glass of hot milk. Sip it slowly. Have this drink one or two times daily for quick recovery.
9. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root has been used traditionally to treat a sore throat as well as other symptoms of pharyngitis. Its mucilage coats and soothes the throat to relieve irritation.
- Add one tablespoon of dried marshmallow root to one cup of boiling water.
- Cover and steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Strain and add some honey.
- Drink two to three cups of this herbal tea daily until you get better.
Note: This remedy is not suitable for pregnant or nursing women, or people who are diabetic.
Due to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, garlic is another excellent home remedy for pharyngitis. Its active compound allicin is particularly good at killing bacteria.
- Add a few drops of garlic oil to one-fourth cup of hot water. Gargle with this solution once or twice daily for two to three days.
- Alternatively, add one teaspoon of grated garlic, one-fourth teaspoon of cinnamon and a small amount of cayenne pepper to a cup of boiling water. Boil for another two minutes and then strain it. Drink this tea twice daily until you get relief.
- You can also peel a fresh garlic clove, slice it in half and then suck on the garlic pieces like a cough drop. Occasionally, crush the garlic between your teeth to release its allicin. Do this several times a day for a few days for best results.
- You can also have chicken soup to help soothe a sore throat.
- Drink water several times a day to keep your body hydrated.
- Suck on frozen fruit-flavored ice pops.
- Use a humidifier to moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat.
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products and avoid second hand smoke.
- Get plenty of rest to recover quickly.
These remedies and tips will help you feel better within a few days. However, if you have pharyngitis symptoms for more than a week, you must see a doctor.