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Does Gargling Salt Water Really Help a Sore Throat?

A sick woman holds her throat and is wrapped in a blanket.
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There was a tingle in the back of your throat a few days ago, and now, it has turned into a full-blown burn. You don’t feel like hopping in the car (or paying for delivery) for some analgesic lozenges. So how true is that old wives’ tale about gargling salt water for a sore throat?

As it turns out, it’s pretty accurate. Gargling salt water might just help alleviate a bit of your throat pain.

There are a few different benefits of gargling with salt water. For those with sore throats, the most important is that it can reduce inflammation. Sinus infections, congestion, and the common cold can all cause inflammation and irritation in your throat, and that’s why it feels sore. The saltwater thins out your mucus and reduces swelling according to Michael Lerner, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the Yale University School of Medicine, who spoke with Insider.

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For some backup, you can try traditional lozenges.

There’s also a chance that gargling can help reduce the amount of viral load you’re carrying around as well. By gargling and rinsing with salt water, you could diminish the allergens and infection causing your throat to hurt to being with.

As for how to gargle with saltwater, it’s recommended to use distilled water as the tap might be contaminated. Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every cup of warm water. Then, gargle for 10-15 seconds two or three times per day.

If you’re feeling a sore throat starting or are looking for cold season home remedies in advance, a saltwater gargle might in your future.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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