When you have a sore throat, the burning and uncomfortable feeling it causes can make it hard to drink or eat. What foods are good to eat and drink when you have a sore throat?

Keep reading to find out the best things to eat and drink when you have a sore throat and the things you might want to avoid.

Foods that are soft and very easy to swallow are usually safe to eat when you have a sore throat. The soft texture will help limit the amount of irritation to your throat. Warm foods and beverages can also help soothe your throat.

Some foods you may want to eat are:

  • warm, cooked pasta, including macaroni and cheese
  • warm oatmeal, cooked cereal, or grits
  • gelatin desserts
  • plain yogurts or yogurts with pureed fruits
  • cooked vegetables
  • fruit or vegetable smoothies
  • mashed potatoes
  • broth and cream-based soups
  • milk
  • nonacidic juices, such as grape or apple juice
  • scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
  • popsicles

Eating and drinking these items will allow you to stay nourished without irritating your already sore throat.

You should avoid foods that might irritate your throat more or that are difficult to swallow. These foods may include:

  • crackers
  • crusty bread
  • spicy seasonings and sauces
  • sodas
  • coffee
  • alcohol
  • dry snack foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, or popcorn
  • fresh, raw vegetables
  • acidic fruits, such as oranges, lemons, lime, tomatoes, and grapefruits

In some people, dairy may thicken or increase mucus production. This may prompt you to clear your throat more often, which may aggravate your sore throat.

The first and most cost-effective way to relieve your sore throat is by gargling with warm water and salt. Pour about a tablespoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water. Stir the salt around in the water. Then, take a few sips, tip your head back, and gargle. Make sure not to swallow. Instead, spit it out and repeat.

Some herbal remedies may help. Herbal throat spray, drops, or teas that contain licorice root or honeysuckle flower can provide some relief. Before using an herbal treatment, though, make sure you’re aware of any potential:

  • side effects
  • allergies
  • interactions with other medications
  • interactions with other herbal supplements

If you aren’t sure what you can safely take, ask your doctor. This is especially true if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Some herbal remedies aren’t safe to use during pregnancy.

Read more: Treating a cold or flu while pregnant »

You can also use over-the-counter methods. Throat lozenges that you can get in some grocery and drugstores not only take away the sting of a sore throat for a little bit, but many also have a pleasant taste.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a mild pain reliever some people use for minor aches and pains. It can also help soothe a sore throat. Before taking acetaminophen, make sure to read the directions on the packaging and take the suggested amount that’s best for you.

If none of these methods provide you with any long or lasting relief and your sore throat continues, you may need to try prescription medication. Talk to your doctor if you’re unable to find relief.

If your sore throat doesn’t go away, see your doctor. Most sore throats occur due to viral infections, such as a cold or the flu, or bacterial infections, such as strep throat. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics will not treat a sore throat that occurs due to a viral infection.

Sore throats can also occur due to environmental factors like seasonal allergies, inhaling cigarette smoke, or even dry air. People who snore can also experience sore throats.

Learn more: Allergies and sore throat: Treating the cause »

See your doctor if your sore throat has become unbearable and you’re starting to feel worse or if you experience other symptoms like:

You should also see your doctor if your sore throat lasts longer than a week. Your doctor can run tests to rule out anything needing further attention.

Your sore throat will likely take a few days to go away, but you can get relief now by:

  • gargling with salt water
  • taking acetaminophen as recommended on the label
  • treating yourself to an ice popsicle
  • getting plenty of rest
  • drinking warm, herbal tea
  • staying hydrated

Sore throats usually go away within a week, but they’ll often only last a few days. You can usually treat your sore throat with home care. See your doctor if:

  • you suspect you have a bacterial infection
  • your sore throat isn’t getting better
  • your sore throat is getting worse

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