April 7, 2005 2:15 AM   Subscribe

Strep throat pain remedies -- homemade or medically-sanctioned, I care not. I've never been woken up by throat pain before, and the doctor is still 6 hours away. Any recommendations?

I never get sick, yet this year I've managed to get the flu, some nasty cold, and now this. I don't even have tonsils or adenoids anymore (childhood strep was very regular), so I can't believe I'm even seeing that classic white crap back in my throat. I'm officially paranoid that my immune system is being shot by something worse, but I'll leave that diagnosis for the doc. Until then, please help me sleep—ibuprofen's not cutting it and hot tea's only very temporary; how can I relieve this pain?

I fucking hate pills.
posted by symphonik to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Gargling dispirn extra strength and taking plenty of vitamin C works for me. As does going to bed with load of clothes on and sweating it out..
posted by kenaman at 3:17 AM on April 7, 2005

There may not be any relief that isn't "very temporary," but here goes:
Hot salt-water gargle
Zinc lozenges (the chewable ones)
Tea with honey
Cough drops
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 AM on April 7, 2005

Best answer: gargle with salt water, half-teaspoon per 6 oz water, hot as you can stand. Make sure you gargle the solution in the very back of your throat!

I can not suggest any lozenges. Only from my own experience (far too much of it), such things make the infection worse!

Get to the doc and get antibiotic. It kills strep dead! I suffered a lot of strep infections in my childhood and youth. Antibiotics really make a big difference. Its not an infection to dink around with.

If by chance you are smoking menthol cigarettes, either quit smoking or quit the menthol. It makes any throat or respiratory infection worse.
posted by Goofyy at 4:49 AM on April 7, 2005

I've found sippin' lemon juice with honey (warmed) helps.
posted by peacay at 4:54 AM on April 7, 2005

"Throat Coat" tea will help with the pain. Stay hydrated. Your body will likely fight this off in a few days. However, I think most doctors would recommend that you take the antibiotics. If it were to somehow spread it could be very dangerous. Some will call in a prescription without seeing you if you are truly six hours away. Can't you find a closer doctor?
posted by caddis at 5:11 AM on April 7, 2005

Whenever I get throat woes, a slow Guinness is great for soothing the pain and calming my nerves. Just make sure you don't over do it (sip one over an hour) and don't drink'em too cold!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:16 AM on April 7, 2005

Best answer: By now, you're off to the doctor, but I strongly recommend Chloraseptic sprays. You just aim them at the back of your throat, spritz five times, and swallow. It is a local anasthetic, and quite effective -- the only thing I've found that really helps when sore throat pain is too hideous to bear. Plus it makes it much easier to swallow those antibiotics that your doctor may well be prescribing you right now.

However, I think most doctors would recommend that you take the antibiotics. If it were to somehow spread it could be very dangerous. Some will call in a prescription without seeing you if you are truly six hours away.

I believe the idea was that the appointment was six hours away. A responsible doctor should not prescribe antibiotics to someone for a new complaint without seeing them. Overprescription of antibiotics is much more harmful than an otherwise healthy person waiting a day or so to begin treating his strep throat.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:41 AM on April 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

Aspirin/Advil/Tylenol will help with the pain, which is caused by inflammation, isn't it? I know you hate pills, and it's not like swallowing things is _more_ fun now, but I do recommend this.

Warm salt water gargle - not too hot, not too salty, just right. Be gentle.

When I'm in this state, I tend to look for cold remedies that _will_ make me drowsy. As long as there's no danger of you suffocating, maybe some Robitussin (if you're coughing) or Actifed would help relieve the symptoms and encourage you to sleep. Maybe put some more by the bed with a glass of water in case you do wake up as soon as it wears out.

I don't really recommend Chloraseptic spray; it seems to lead to some kind of dependency, doesn't last very long, and seems to lead to throat tickle eventually. But if you're desperate and you didn't know this existed, now you do.

I'm interested in others' comments on using Chloraseptic spray.
posted by amtho at 5:42 AM on April 7, 2005

My doctor told me gargling soluble aspirin is the best method. After trying it, I concur.
posted by Pericles at 5:44 AM on April 7, 2005

I'll second Chloraseptic. It's not a long term solution, it won't make the problem better, but it will mask it for a while and if you're just waiting for the antibiotics to kick in and crawling into bed for a few days isn't an option, that's all you really need or want. Be prepared to spray that shit every half hour or more, no way does it last as long as they claim.

Having gone without insurance for so long, and being prone to strep married to someone prone to strep I've experimented a lot with herbal stuff and OTCs. Tea made from fennel does help a bit, as does garlic. Both have natural antiseptic properties.

With Robitussin or the like be careful- whatever you do don't get the expectorant, get a cough suppressant. Expectorant will just make you cough more, which will only further irritate an already unhappy throat.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:01 AM on April 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Interesting the water-soluble aspirin bit. I'll keep it in mind.

Oh, and correct by the way, the appointment was six hours away. Now only an hour.
posted by symphonik at 6:14 AM on April 7, 2005

Another vote for Chloraseptic. It is a very short term solution, but I've gotten two "clawing at my neck" sore throats in the past four or five years, and it really helps. A lot.

And yes, about 30 minutes between sprays should do the trick.
posted by schustafa at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2005

Chloraseptic works pretty well... or you can go buy a bottle of whiskey and burn those little bastards out...
posted by jackofsaxons at 6:51 AM on April 7, 2005

Another vote for Chloraseptic from someone who's had several of the nasty throat problems in the last few months. Another short-term solution was rubbing the back of the throat with a frozen popsicle, best done in the privacy of one's home so as to avoid the inevitable perverted comments.
posted by chickygrrl at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2005

Best answer: The hot salt water gargle is pretty effective. I always found that Chloraseptic worked for only a few minutes, and the spraying became addictive and habitual way too quickly!

Though it's clear that symphonic is definitely going to the doctor, I wanted to echo the people mentioning antibiotics. If it's definitely a strep infection, which the doc can determine, antibiotics are the only real treatment. Strep is nothing to screw around with - it's a serious enough infection that no one should spend weeks and weeks trying to treat it with home or homeopathic remedies. I've seen some of my more earthy-crunchy friends try this, and their suffering was pathetic by the time they crumbled and went to a real doc.

Until the advent of antibiotics, strep was one of the major killing diseases. It often progressed into systemic infection which damaged the heart, and caused rheumatic fever. Most people who came down with strep in the 19th century eventually died of its complications. So although I am all for the cautious and careful prescription of antibiotics (hate it when the doc says 'Well, I don't know exactly what it is, I'll give you antibiotics just to be safe') strep is one disease that is fairly easy to ID (by the pain, swelling, redness, fever, and white spots) and can only be effectively treated by killing the bacteria with antibiotics. I've spoke my piece.
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on April 7, 2005

I've struggled with recurring throat and sinus problems for years and finally put an almost total stop to them by using Xylitol in the form of a nasal wash called Xlear (it comes in a squeeze bottle intended for mist inhaling, but I get the best results by tipping back my head and letting the drops run back from my nostrils into my throat) and either the Xlear gum or lozenge, used simultaneously with the liquid, at the first signs of any throat discomfort. Stops it cold. Xylitol is "a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body." It's used in toothpastes, etc. as a well-documented anti-cavity additive, and is declared safe enough to be used on infants; tastes very sweet but is safe for diabetics and hyoglycemics and has no side effects that I've ever noticed. imo, it's a modern miracle.

From the Xlear website (

< when exposed to xylitol (specifically strep pneumo and h flu), these harmful bacteria lose their ability to adhere to infected membranes and are not able to grow. unlike most antibiotics, which kill the majority of bacteria and leave the resistant super bacteria behind, xylitol merely flushes harmful bacteria away.>>

PS: Sorry about the inelegant links; on a Mac and can't recall the html...
posted by dpcoffin at 11:33 AM on April 7, 2005

Chloraseptic aggravates infections in my throat. A peculiar problem of my own, I suppose. I can't handle any sort of mint/peppermint/menthol/eucalyptus, either, at any time.
posted by Goofyy at 1:38 PM on April 7, 2005

Fuck all this gargling and spraying and sniffing and snorting and tea and shit. Folk medicine is all well and good if the placebo effect is enough to make you feel better, but if you're at all like me and that health food store stuff doesn't do jack shit for you, bust out the Hall's MAX (or some other lozenge with benzocaine) for pain management.
posted by majick at 3:27 PM on April 7, 2005

I realize that there are 3 "Best Of" checkmarks in this thread, as well as it being a day old too. However, I would recommend for any sore throat, buying some "Theraflu". It's not the best tasting stuff in the world. but add a bit of honey to it.

It may knock you out pretty well, but I swear by the stuff. Within an hour, your throat will be feeling mighty well. It's got me through a few really rough sore throats in my day.

And if you are in Canada, try Neo Citran. Which is some of the best medicine ever invented in the history of medicine.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:25 PM on April 7, 2005

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