A sore throat can be a real pain in the neck! While sore throats are mostly caused by viruses, strep throat is different. Here, the offenders are bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. A strep infection is most common among children aged 5–15 years – it accounts for 4–6 of 20 cases of throat infections in children; on the other hand, only 1 to 3 cases in adults are caused by a strep infection.1
So how do you get it? You can catch a strep infection by breathing in germs when someone who’s infected sneezes or coughs; by touching a surface contaminated by respiratory droplets from an infected person and then touching your mouth or nose; or by sharing a glass or plate with an infected person.
Other than a sore throat and trouble swallowing, this infection can bring on red spots on the roof of your mouth, stomach pain, headache, vomiting, and fever. It can also cause your tonsils and lymph nodes in the neck to swell up. A runny nose, pink eyes, or a cough accompanying your sore throat? It’s more likely that a virus is responsible for your sore throat in these cases.2
The strep bacteria usually cause only a mild infection, but sometimes serious complications like post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, which affects the kidneys, and rheumatic fever, which affects the heart, can develop. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect you have strep throat.3
Treating A Strep Throat
Your doctor may take a swab from your throat and test it to check if group A strep is causing your sore throat. Strep throat is usually treated with antibiotics and it’s important to complete the course prescribed by your doctor if you get this illness.4 However, in addition to the medical treatment prescribed, certain measures at home can make you more comfortable and help you heal.
7 Home Remedies For Strep Throat Symptoms
1. Gargle With Salt Water
Salt water gargles are a time-honored remedy for sore throats. Salt water can draw excess fluids out and reduce inflammation and pain. Gargling can also wash out germs from your throat.5
How To Use:
- Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup (240 ml) of warm water. Gargle with this solution repeatedly – say, 3 or 4 times – thrice a day to soothe your throat.6
2. Suck On Ice
Drinking something cold or sucking on some ice can help numb a painful throat and alleviate the inflammation. Try making a fruit-flavored popsicle if your kids won’t settle for plain old ice chips.7 8
How To Use:
Here’s a simple recipe for a fruit popsicle that’s sure to be a favorite with your child.
- Boil 1/3 of a cup of water and stir in 1/3 of a cup of sugar till it dissolves.
- Refrigerate this so that it becomes cold and then stir in fruit juice of your choice.
- Now pour into popsicle molds and freeze for ice lollies.
3. Try Manuka Honey
Honey has been traditionally used to soothe sore throats. According to research, Manuka honey can inhibit biofilm growth in group A streptococci. A biofilm is a sticky surface through which bacteria adhere to each other and also attach to a surface. The formation of a biofilm helps bacteria protect themselves from your immune system as well as from antibiotics.9
Manuka honey may not just soothe your throat, it may also make the offending bacteria more vulnerable by fighting biofilm formation.10
How To Use:
- Add a couple of teaspoons of manuka honey to a cup of hot lemon juice. The vitamin C in lemon will help your immune system work better.11
- You can also add 2 teaspoons of honey to black or green tea if you prefer.
- Taking a spoon of honey a couple of times a day can also be helpful.
4. Use Turmeric
Turmeric, a herb that’s been long valued by Asian communities for its powerful healing properties, has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that curcumin, a component found in turmeric, can inhibit the growth of bacteria which cause strep throat.12
How To Use:
- The recipe for a traditional glass of turmeric milk is fairly simple – just boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a cup of milk.
- Have this drink 3 times a day.13
5. Get Some Ginger
Ginger is another useful herb you can try. Ginger has been found to work against the bacteria that causes strep throat thanks to the tannins present in it.14 Also, bioactive compounds known as shogaols in ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and can ease a sore throat.15
How To Use:
- Simmer 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger in 3 cups of water for around 10 minutes.
- Strain and your ginger tea is ready!
- Add a dash of honey for sweetness and healing power.
- Drink 2 to 3 times a day to soothe your throat.16
6. Try Date Vinegar
Vinegar can also be helpful in dealing with a strep throat. According to one study, the vinegars of date, apple, and grape were all effective at eradicating streptococcal biofilm. Date vinegar, however, was found to be the most effective.17
How To Use:
- Mix ¼ of a cup of vinegar with ¼ of a cup of honey.
- Take a tablespoon of this mixture once every 4 hours to relieve your sore throat.
- And if you don’t have date vinegar on hand, good old apple cider vinegar works too!18
7. Use A Humidifier
Using a humidifier in your room can be helpful if you have a sore throat. It can bring moist air in contact with your throat and soothe it if it’s painful and dry.19
Protect Yourself From Strep
Protect yourself from a strep infection by reducing exposure to germs.
- Make sure that you wash your hands frequently, especially if you’ve been in contact with someone who’s infected.
- If someone in your family is sick, keep their utensils separate and wash them with hot water and soap.
- If your toddler has strep throat, make sure you properly disinfect toys that they might have been chewing on.20
|↑1, ↑2, ↑3, ↑4||Strep Throat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑5||The Claim: Gargling With Salt Water Can Ease Cold Symptoms. The New York Times.|
|↑6||Sore Throat? Here’s What to Do. University of Michigan.|
|↑7||Soothing a Sore Throat. National Health Service.|
|↑8||Kids and Sore Throat. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑9||Gupta, Priya, Subhasis Sarkar, Bannhi Das, Surajit Bhattacharjee, and Prosun Tribedi. “Biofilm, pathogenesis and prevention—a journey to break the wall: a review.” Archives of microbiology 198, no. 1 (2016): 1-15.|
|↑10||Can honey fight superbugs like MRSA? National Health Service.|
|↑11||Ströhle, A., and Andreas Hahn. “Vitamin C and immune function.” Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten 32, no. 2 (2009): 49-54.|
|↑12||Mohammed, Najah A., and Neama Y. Habil. “Evaluation of antimicrobial activity of curcumin against two oral bacteria.” In ACIS, vol. 3, pp. 18-21. 2015.|
|↑13||AHMED, TALHA, and ARSHAD TAIMOR. “HERBAL AND CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT OF BRONCHITIS.”|
|↑14||Kateregga, John N., Prossy N. Nantale, and James G. Ndukui. “Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation.”|
|↑15||NIKAM, AJINKYA R., LOHIDASAN SATHIYANARAYANAN, and KAKASAHEB R. MAHADIK. “VALIDATION OF REVERSED-PHASE HIGH-PERFORMANCE LIQUID CHROMATOGRAPHY METHOD FOR SIMULTANEOUS DETERMINATION OF 6-, 8-, AND 10-SHOGAOL FROM GINGER PREPARATIONS.”|
|↑16||Vukovic, Laurel. Echinacea/Cold Flu Fighters. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2003.|
|↑17||Ismael, Narjis F. “Vinegar” as Anti-bacterial Biofilm formed by Streptococcus pyogenes Isolated from Recurrent Tonsillitis Patients, in vitro.” Jordan J bio Sci 6 (2013): 191-7.|
|↑18||Thacker, Emily. The Vinegar Formula Guide. James Direct, Inc., 2013.|
|↑19||Strep throat. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑20||Sore Throat (Pharyngitis). Harvard Health Publications.|