In the throes of illness, there’s seemingly nothing quite so irritating as a sore throat. Typically identified by a feeling of pain and scratchiness accompanied by a difficulty to swallow, pharyngitis — the technical term for this painful condition — can really put a damper on your day. Thankfully, in many cases, it can easily be taken care of at home with one of the best over-the-counter remedies for a sore throat. Before we get to the solution, however, it helps to identify the problem: What the heck causes us to feel like our pharynx to feel like it’s on fire in the first place?
What causes a sore throat?
Sore throats can be caused by a variety of things, but are often linked to the common cold. In fact, colds are the number one culprit of sore throat pain — but they’re not the only cause.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other causes of a sore throat may include allergies, dry air, strained muscles (that hoarse voice after a concert comes to mind), digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and irritants such as smoke, alcohol, and spicy foods. Luckily, whether your sore throat is a byproduct of an overarching virus or one of these other causes, there are tons of remedies available to make the pain disappear, fast.
The Best Remedies for a Sore Throat
While the best remedies for a sore throat may involve antibiotics if your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, or good old fashioned hydration and rest in the event that it’s viral, there are a few ways you can help things along.
Whether you’re looking for one of the best cold medicines, a good cough drop to keep the painful scratching at bay, or a more natural way to treat your sore throat, there’s a solution out there for you. Keep scrolling to shop Woman’s World’s picks for the best sore throat remedies that will keep you feeling your best all year long.
See more of our best product recommendations.
Best Sore Throat Spray
Beekeeper’s Naturals Bee Propolis
Where to buy: $12.49, Amazon
A customer favorite with an almost five-star rating, this soothing throat spray uses bee propolis to take care of business. Protective, antiseptic, and rich in anti-oxidants, bee propolis is nature's ultimate germ protector — it's actually essential to the integrity of the bee hive's immune system. Packaged into a convenient spray bottle that you can always keep handy, this mixture is a quick sore throat solution for wherever you are.
Best Sore Throat Lozenges
Boiron Throatcalm Tablets
Where to buy: $8.47, Amazon
A staple in many medicine cabinets, Boiron Throatcalm tablets are a popular sore throat remedy for one simple reason — they work! Non-drowsy and fast-acting, these soothing capsules help to relieve red, dry sore throats and hoarseness fast.
How fast? According to one customer, very: "I was able to recover so quick from my achy throat that I was really surprised! Normally it would have been days, if not a week with the painful burning and swallowing in my throat, but not with ThroatCalm! It started to work the same day, and by the third day, I was good! It truly works!"
Best Tea for a Sore Throat
The Republic of Tea Organic Immunity Supergreen
Where to buy: $14.99, Amazon
Nothing's better when you're sick than a piping hot cup of tea, and we just so happen to have found the best one around in The Republic of Tea's Organic Immunity Supergreen brew. Personally, whenever I get a sore throat, I make sure to brew a cup. It's infused with echinacea, ginger, and elderflower — all of which are known for their cold-fighting abilities — so I know that with each sip, my sore throat is one step closer to disappearing.
Best Honey for a Sore Throat
Nature Nate’s 100% Pure Organic Raw & Unfiltered Honey
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon
A healing remedy for the ages, honey is known for its antibacterial properties and is often the first line of defense when you start to feel a little tickle coming on in the back of your throat. It's more than an old wives' tale, though: research has proven honey's effectiveness, making it a top pick among even more modern supplements. For a high-quality version, try Nature Nate’s. It's produced without any herbicides, antibodies, pesticides, or fillers, so you can rest easy as you allow it to work its magic.
Best Drink for a Sore Throat
Nature's Way Umcka ColdCare
Where to buy: $7.99 (Originally $10.99, Vitacost
This lemon-flavored ColdCare drink from Nature's Way packs a knockout punch to germs right out of the gate. The star ingredient here is Pelargonium sidoides extract, aka umcka. A member of the geranium family, Pelargonium sidoide root has been used in traditional South African medicine for decades. A 2008 study proved that umcka is "impressively efficacious in decreasing the duration and severity of the common cold" — particularly when taken at onset.
Best Cough Suppressant for a Sore Throat
Vicks VapoRub Original Analgesic Ointment
Where to buy: $22.95 for 2, Amazon
One of the most popular remedies for a sore throat is actually a product you don't ingest — Vicks VapoRub. This trusted salve uses a blend of calming ingredients, such as eucalyptus and menthol, to soothe the throat and chest, suppressing coughs and relieving muscle pain all at once. By keeping coughs at bay, VapoRub gives your throat time to heal, shortening the duration of your cold, and ultimately, your residual sore throat.
Best Nasal Wash for a Sore Throat
Dr. Hana’s Nasopure System Kit
Where to buy: $12.95 (Originally $20), Amazon
If you're wondering what a nasal wash has to do with your throat, you're likely blissfully unaware of the syndrome known as post-nasal drip (PND) — that icky, dripping sensation in the back of your throat that makes it hard to swallow when you have a cold. Inevitably, all that irritation will leave you with a scratchy soreness to go along with your illness. Treat the problem at the root of its cause by clearing out your sinuses with Dr. Hana’s Nasopure system kit. Using a buffered antiseptic salt blend, this kit flushes out the nasal cavity to help you bid adieu to any scratchy pipes.
Best Cough Drops for a Sore Throat
doTERRA On-Guard Protecting Throat Drops
Where to buy: $16 (Originally $19.33), Amazon
For many people, their first line of defense against a sore throat is a tried-and-true cough drop. This best-selling version from essential oil powerhouse doTERRA, which is Amazon's top choice for best cough drops, is a force to be reckoned with. The secret behind its potency? A rich blend of organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice syrup, and an array of certified, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, including wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and myrrh.
"They are spendy but worth the money because they really do work," one reviewer wrote. "They numb the throat without it feeling like you were at the dentist and all chemical-like." Roger that!
Best Cough Syrup for a Sore Throat
Nature's Way Umcka Elderberry
Where to buy: $8.76 (Originally $12.51), Amazon
As we've established, where cold roam, sore throats tend to follow. To reduce the time spent suffering from unpleasant symptoms of either ailment, Nature's Way lends its powerhouse umcka to its elderberry-flavored intensive cold + flu syrup blend to give that nasty cough or runny nose the boot, and fast.
Customers also like the taste, calling it "delicious." Cold medicine we'll actually want to take? Sign us up!
Best Humidifier for a Sore Throat
ONSON 4.5L Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Where to buy: $46.99, Amazon
As we begin to transition to the colder months, you'll start to notice the humidity drop and the air become more dry. Unfortunately, with that dryness comes an increased chance of developing a sore throat. There is an easy remedy, however! Simply procure a humidifier, like ONSON's 4.5-liter Ultrasonic Cool Mist. Designed to keep the air in your home moist, this easy-to-use, easy-to-clean machine will provide long-lasting relief all winter long. Bonus tip: If you're feeling under the weather, add a bit of Vicks' Vapo Steam ($8.97, Amazon) to your humidifier to help keep your airways open.