Pregnancy comes with its own set of ups and downs, and dealing with sore throat is just one of them.
Causes of Sore Throat during Pregnancy
A sore throat is an inflammation of the throat that is mostly caused by viral infections (cold and flu) and sometimes bacterial infections. Risk factors include acid reflux, allergies (dust and pollen), muscle strain in the throat, exposure to chemicals or pollutants, and sinusitis.
Symptoms of Sore Throat during Pregnancy
Signs and symptoms include one or more of the following: redness, scratchiness, and pain the throat, swollen tonsils, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and earache.
During pregnancy, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can also result in a sore throat along with other effects, such as nausea and headache. A sore throat during pregnancy usually diminishes on its own within seven days; hence, it is not a cause of concern and can only be a minor irritant.
However, it is important not to confuse sore throat with strep throat, which is a severe form of sore throat caused by group A streptococcal bacteria. Strep throat is highly contagious and may require a doctor’s visit.
A sore throat, on the other hand, can be managed with some personal care and home remedies that are safe and cause no harm to the baby.
Here are top 10 home remedies for sore throat during pregnancy.
1. Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with warm salt water is one of the safest home remedies that you can try for sore throat during pregnancy. It can help clear your throat of irritants and loosen the mucus and thus soothe your sore throat.
Also, salt relieves inflammation by drawing out the excess moisture from the swollen tissues. The antiseptic and antimicrobial properties of salt help clear any microbial infection by restricting bacterial growth.
A 2008 study published in BMC Health Services Research found that gargling three times a day with salt water is linked to a 40% decrease in upper respiratory tract infections.
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of lukewarm water.
- Stir it well to dissolve the salt.
- Gargle with this solution for about 1 minute before spiting it out.
- Do this at least 3 times a day to get relief from sore throat.
2. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation moistens the mucous membrane and offers quick relief from sore throat. It also lets you breathe easily and helps you sleep comfortably, which is important for faster recovery.
- Boil a large pot of water on the stove until it begins to produce steam.
- Pour the hot water into a bowl.
- Add a few drops of essential oil of your choice (for example, peppermint oil) in the hot water.
- Cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl to inhale the steam.
- Do this for 5–10 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day.
Be careful when doing steam inhalation as the hot vapor can burn your skin and eyes. Lower your head slowly toward the bowl until you are 8–12 inches away from the water or as you are comfortable. Close your eyes or cover them with the towel. Take slow and deep breaths.
For sore throat caused by acid reflux, ginger is a good remedy.
In fact, ginger is a natural aid to relieve acidity during pregnancy. The active components in ginger, such as volatile oils and phenolic compounds, help neutralize the stomach acids.
Ginger also combats nausea and vomiting that often accompany acidity. A 2014 study published in the Nutrition Journal reports that ginger could be considered a harmless and possibly effective alternative option for women suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Ginger also has antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties and even helps reduce inflammation.
- Drink warm ginger tea after eating a meal. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to 1 cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy this ginger tea while it is still warm. Drink no more than 2 cups of ginger tea a day.
- Ginger candies are also good alternatives.
Caution: It is recommended to take ginger in moderation.
4. Homemade Chicken Soup
Eating something warm, such as homemade chicken soup, soothes a sore throat.
Homemade chicken soup is rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as vitamins and minerals that help fight the infection that is causing the sore throat. In addition, the nutrients provided by chicken soup improve the body’s immunity, which prevents contagions from entering and harming the body.
In the addition, taking in the the steam from a bowl of homemade chicken soup will help thin the mucus.
A 2000 study published in Chest suggests that chicken soup contains a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity for upper respiratory tract infections.
Use organic chicken and cook the soup at home. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and parsley, and use sea salt to taste and for a mineral boost.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is another very effective remedy for sore throat during pregnancy.
Apple cider vinegar alkalizes the body, and most viruses cannot thrive in alkaline environments. It also contains good bacteria that help fight off infections.
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 1 glass of warm water. Gargle with this solution for 30–60 seconds, 2 to 3 times a day.
- To help fight the infection from within, mix 1 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 1 glass of water. You can also add a little honey. Drink this solution twice a day.
6. Warm Turmeric Milk
Drinking warm turmeric milk can help bring down the swelling and inflammation of the membranes and hence is considered a good remedy for sore throat.
In addition, turmeric has analgesic properties that help reduce pain in the throat. It also has infection-fighting and immune-boosting effects.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of ground black pepper in a glass of warm milk.
- Sweeten with a little honey.
- Drink this solution 2 times daily to speed up the healing process.
7. Adequate Fluid Intake
Increasing your fluid intake at the first sign of a sore throat is a must. Fluids help thin and loosen the mucus, preventing it from clinging to the interior walls of your throat and causing irritation. Fluids also aid in flushing the toxins and hydrating the membranes, which are important for the healing process.
On the other hand, low fluid intake can cause dehydration. When dehydrated, your body doesn’t produce enough saliva that normally moistens your throat.
Moreover, staying hydrated is a great way to reduce the risk of infection during pregnancy.
- Drink lukewarm water at regular intervals. You must drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water daily.
- You can also drink decaffeinated tea mixed with raw honey and lemon juice.
- Fruit juices, vegetable soup, and clear broths also help in hydration.
- You can also include fruits, vegetables, and other foods with high water content in your diet.
Avoid caffeinated sodas and coffee, which can cause your body to lose more water.
8. Ample Rest
When suffering from a sore throat during pregnancy, rest your vocal cords by minimizing talking.
Also, as your immunity is suppressed during pregnancy, your body works harder than usual to fight off bacteria and viruses. To help your immune system function properly, get adequate rest. This allows your body to use its energy in the healing process.
Try to nap 2 or 3 times a day to provide your body with a good amount of rest and allow recuperation.
Also, have your dinner early so you can go to bed early and sleep longer.
A sore throat can get worse at night and disturb your sleep, which can make your pregnancy difficult. As sleep is important for quick recovery, it is recommended to use an indoor humidifier.
A humidifier adds moisture to the air. Breathing in humid air will soothe your sore throat so you can get your much-needed sleep.
Place a humidifier in your bedroom or any room where you spend a considerable amount of time.
If you don’t have a humidifier, you can also fill a deep pan with warm water and place it near a heat source. As the water heats up, it should gradually make the air in the room moist.
Note: Keep the humidifier clean to prevent buildup of mold and other allergens.
10. Avoiding Irritants
Avoiding irritants is a must as environmental and other irritants are main causes of sore throat.
The worst irritant that can aggravate the symptoms of sore throat is, of course, cigarette and other tobacco smoke. Hence, avoid places where you get exposed to secondhand smoke.
At the same time, you also need to avoid dust and other pollutants in the air. You may wear a face mask when you need to go out.
Also, avoid perfumes and scented bathroom sprays that may cause sinus irritation and lead to sore throat and cough.
- Make sure you are not running a fever as high fever during pregnancy can be dangerous for your baby and should be monitored by a physician.
- Avoid raw honey because raw honey is a known source of bacteria, which can cause health problems to you and your baby.
- Drink decaffeinated teas and add a squeeze of lemon.
- Use throat lozenges to coat and moisturize your throat. Throat lozenges are generally safe for use during pregnancy.
- Avoid cold liquids as they can aggravate a sore throat.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Consume foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Do not share utensils, cups, or towels with a person who has throat infection as you may contract it.
- If the pain due to throat infection is persistent, then you must visit a doctor.
- Michi Sakai, Takuro Shimbo, Kazumi Omata, Yoshimitsu Takahashi, Kazunari Satomura, Tetsuhisa Kitamura, Takashi Kawamura, Hisamitsu Baba, Masaharu Yoshihara, Hiroshi Itoh and the Great Cold Investigators-I. Cost-effectiveness of gargling for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. BMC Health Services Research. https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-8-258. Published December 16, 2008.
- Estelle Viljoen, Janicke Visser, Nelene Koen, and Alfred Musekiwa. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutrition Joournal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995184. Published 2014.
- The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775.
- Rennard B, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691. Published October 2000.