Nursing a sore throat at home

While it's cold and flu season, chances are you'll end up with a sore throat. But there are some home remedies that may relieve the pain. Dr. David Gerson visited KATV Wednesday morning to share some tips.

The first thing he talked about was antibiotics. "They're not recommended," he said. Gerson said antibiotics do nothing for throat pain caused by a virus. In fact, inappropriate use can unnecessarily expose patients to side effects like diarrhea, rash, or a more serious allergic reaction.

Dr. Gerson recommends a mild pain reliever like Tylenol or an NSAID agent like Motrin or Aleve. The doctor says both have been shown to provide quick and effective relief for a sore throat. "My experience has been that for adults 800mg of ibuprofen every 8 hours with food works best. For kids, be sure to ask you family doctor or pediatrician for proper dosing,"

You may have heard Grandma talk about gargling with salt water. Gerson says it's not clear if that remedy works to relieve pain, but it's unlikely to be harmful. Most recipes suggest 1/4 teaspoon of salt per one cup (8 oz) of warm water.

When it comes to sprays for sore throat, Dr. Gerson says save your money. "They're no more effective than sucking on hard candy and often can cause your tongue and cheeks to get numb and can lead you to bite your tongue or cheek."

A variety of lozenges (cough drops) have topical anesthetics to treat throat pain or relieve dryness. Dr. Gerson says they are more effective than sprays or gargles because they last longer. "Often just getting a hard candy, like a Jolly Rancher or lemon drop will do the trick," Gerson said. Mints, though, can actually irritate the throat. Gerson discourages them.

Other treatments include sipping warm beverages (honey or lemon tea, chicken soup), cold beverages, or eating cold or frozen desserts. Gerson says he's a big fan of a warm steam vaporizer/humidifier.

"Most of us are mouth breathers, combine that with forced air heat and you have a recipe for a dry as the Sahara throat. Keep this old fashioned remedy at your bedside and your throat will be a lot less sensitive. It also doesn't hurt to throw in some vapor rub into the reservoir or on your chest."