Having a sore throat can be very uncomfortable and irritating. A sore throat makes it painful to swallow and talk. Many people look for natural home remedies to help soothe a sore throat and reduce pain and inflammation. One popular home remedy is drinking hot lemon water.
What causes a sore throat?
A sore throat is often caused by an infection from viruses or bacteria. The most common causes of a sore throat include:
- Viral infections like cold, flu, mononucleosis, croup
- Bacterial infections like strep throat
- Environmental irritants like dry air, smoking, allergies
- Yelling or overusing your voice
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
In most cases, sore throats are acute, meaning they last a short time and go away on their own. But some sore throats can last longer and may require medical treatment.
What are the benefits of hot lemon water for a sore throat?
Drinking hot lemon water is thought to provide several benefits that can help soothe a sore throat:
- Soothes inflammation: Lemon contains antioxidants and vitamin C which may help reduce inflammation and swelling in the throat.
- Boosts immunity: Vitamin C in lemons can support immune function to help your body fight infection.
- Helps keep hydrated: Hot liquids can help thin mucus and stay hydrated.
- Provides pain relief: The warm temperature can temporarily relieve throat pain and discomfort.
Lemons contain antioxidants like vitamin C, hesperidin, and plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a key cause of pain and discomfort in a sore throat. Research shows that the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity that can help reduce swelling and irritation.
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, providing about 30-50 mg of vitamin C per 100 ml of juice. Vitamin C supports the immune system and helps the body fight infection. Adding lemon to hot water can help provide vitamin C to boost immunity when you have a sore throat.
Keeps you hydrated
Staying hydrated is key when you have a sore throat. Drinking warm fluids like hot lemon water can help thin out mucus, allowing you to swallow more comfortably. Proper hydration also allows the body to produce thin, watery mucus that can be cleared more easily compared to thick, sticky mucus.
Temporary pain relief
The heat from hot lemon water can provide temporary relief for a sore throat by soothing pain and discomfort. The warm fluid can have a relaxing effect and promote blood flow to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
How to make hot lemon water
Making hot lemon water is very simple:
- Squeeze the juice from half a fresh lemon into a mug
- Add hot water and stir to combine
- You can add honey or other ingredients to taste
- Drink slowly, allowing the warm liquid to soothe your throat
Be sure not to burn your mouth by allowing the water to cool slightly before drinking. You can add other ingredients like honey, ginger, or garlic which also have benefits for sore throats.
When should you avoid hot lemon water?
While generally safe, there are some instances where you may want to avoid hot lemon water for a sore throat:
- If you have acid reflux or heartburn, the acidity of lemons may make symptoms worse.
- If lemon irritates your throat more, discontinue use.
- If you have mouth sores or bleeding gums, the acidity may cause stinging.
- If you are taking medications, the vitamin C in lemons could interfere.
You should also see a doctor if your sore throat lasts longer than 1 week or is accompanied by fever, headache, rash, or swelling. These could indicate a more serious infection like strep throat.
Other home remedies for a sore throat
In addition to hot lemon water, other natural sore throat remedies include:
- Gargling salt water to reduce swelling and loosen mucus
- Drinking herbal tea with honey to coat and soothe the throat
- Eating ice chips or popsicles to numb pain
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen
- Gargling antiseptic mouthwash to relieve pain
- Eating soft, cool foods like applesauce, smoothies, soup
- Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Getting plenty of rest
When to see a doctor
You should make an appointment with your doctor if:
- Your sore throat lasts longer than 1 week
- You have trouble breathing or swallowing
- You have a high fever above 101°F (38°C)
- You have white spots on your tonsils
- Your voice becomes hoarse or you lose your voice
- You have swelling in the glands of your neck
- Your symptoms worsen or you don’t feel better after a few days
Seeing a doctor can help identify and treat any underlying infection, like strep throat, that may require prescription antibiotics or other treatment.
Drinking hot lemon water can be a quick, easy home remedy to help soothe a sore throat. The vitamin C, antioxidants, and warmth provided by the lemon and water can temporarily relieve pain and inflammation associated with a sore throat. While not a cure on its own, hot lemon water can be used along with other home treatments to provide symptom relief. See your doctor if your sore throat persists or gets worse.