There’s nothing quite like autumn in Albany! There’s a chill in the air, frost on the pumpkin, the leaves are turning vibrant shades of color…and a lot of people are sneezing and coughing. Fall marks the beginning of cold and flu season in New York, and one of the first symptoms is often a sore throat. Your mother may have suggested a saltwater gargle to provide soothing relief, and guess what? She was right!
What causes a sore throat?
Sore throats are short-lived but unpleasant. The majority are caused by cold and flu viruses and usually run their course after a few days, but in the meantime, they can cause quite a bit of discomfort. Throat lozenges and sprays can help, but the relief they provide is temporary. You might have better luck (and speed up the healing process) by gargling with saltwater.
Does saltwater have medicinal properties?
There is scientific evidence to support saltwater’s purported medicinal benefits. It won’t cure a sore throat—only time can do that—but its hypertonic properties (a biological term indicating the osmotic pressure is higher than that in the surrounding fluid) can help relieve pain and inflammation.
How does saltwater clean your throat?
When you gargle with saltwater, you are submerging the cells and drawing liquids to the surface, along with any virus and bacteria in the throat. When you spit the saltwater out, you’ll rid the body of those germs, as well. Another benefit? Moisture on the surface of the throat acts as a lubricant and helps soothe irritation.
How much salt do you need to make a saltwater gargle?
In order to benefit, you’ll have to come up with the correct ratio of salt to water.
Too little is ineffective; you’ll need to dissolve at least a quarter teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water in order to make it hypertonic. And yes, the water’s gotta be warm—the heat helps to dissolve the salt and increases blood flow in the throat, aiding the immune system and potentially leading to quicker healing. You can use any type of salt, but smaller granules tend to dissolve more quickly and easily.
How often should you gargle?
You’ll also have to be consistent. Gargling once won’t cut it; implement a routine and stick with it for the best results. Your Albany ear, nose and throat doctor recommends a saltwater gargle two to four times a day, depending on how bad your symptoms are. You should start to feel better after 24 hours. It’s important to drink lots of water so the salt doesn’t cause your other cells to dry out.
Is a saltwater rinse safe for anyone?
Gargling with saltwater isn’t recommended for everybody. If you suffer from high blood pressure, try another remedy to help moisten the throat. Chicken soup is a good alternative and, as with saltwater, it has been medically proven to work. As an added bonus, the broth contains nutrients that help fight infection. Other tips for soothing a sore throat include a spoonful of honey; cold, smooth treats such as ice cream or yogurt; a humidifier to moisten the air; avoiding cigarette smoke and drinking plenty of fluids in order to keep hydrated.
When should you visit an ENT?
If your sore throat lasts longer than a few days or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing or swollen glands, make an appointment with an ENT specialist in Albany. You’ll want to make sure you aren’t suffering from a more serious condition that requires antibiotics, like strep throat.