How to Clear Your Throat

Three Parts:Trying Home RemediesUsing Over-the-Counter ProductsMaking Lifestyle Changes

Singers, speakers, actors, and anybody who uses his or her voice as a tool knows the importance of throat clearing. This helps free the throat of mucus in order to project a strong, in-tune voice. If your throat is congested, there are over-the-counter products and home remedies that can help you clear your throat.

Part 1
Trying Home Remedies

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    Stay hydrated. If you have a lot of mucus in your throat, hydration can help. Liquid can help soften mucus, making it easier to expel from the body.[1]
    • Try to drink about eight glasses of water daily. If you're struggling with a sore throat, you may want to increase your water intake slightly. Seltzer water may help with a scratchy throat.[2]
    • Try to stay away from fruit juices and soda. The added sugar can cause additional throat irritation. If you want something other than water to drink, go for sports drinks or fresh squeezed juices that use only natural sugar.[3]
    • There is a belief that milk and dairy products increase phlegm production, but there is no scientific evidence that this is true.[4] They may cause the phlegm to be thicker and more irritating to your throat, but frozen dairy products can also be soothing and a good source of calories when you may not be eating because it is difficult to swallow.[5]
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    Try honey and lemon. Honey and lemon both help soothe the throat. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon to a glass of ice water or tea. Not only can this help clear phlegm, it may also ease any pain or irritation you are experiencing. [6]
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    Eat spicy foods. Spicy foods can sometimes result in phlegm loosening. This can make it easier to remove via blowing your nose, coughing, and sneezing. Chile, peppers, wasabi, horseradish, and other spicy foods can help clear your throat.[7]
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    Drink herbal teas. Some people find herbal teas help soothe the throat. Try a variety of teas and see if you notice any effect on your throat.
    • Chamomile, ginger, and lemon teas are most frequently cited as helping with congestion.[8]
    • Some people find green tea is soothing for your throat. Try adding honey or lemon to green tea for added effect.[9]
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    Choose healthy foods for your voice. Certain foods are good for the voice and help promote a clear throat. Whole grains, fruit, and vegetables contain vitamins A, E, and C which help keep the throat free of mucus. If you have a sore or strained throat, try eating softer foods until the irritation clears.[10]

Part 2
Using Over-the-Counter Products

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    Take mucus-thinning medication. Mucus thinning medications like guaifenesin (Mucinex) can help reduce phlegm that causes coughing and throat irritation. If you're looking to clear your throat, look for such medications at your local supermarket or pharmacy. Take the meds as directed on the container. If you're concerned about over-the-counter medication interacting with any prescription meds you're on, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.[11]
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    Use saline nasal sprays. Saline sprays and nasal drips can be purchased over-the-counter at your local drug store. They tend to be fairly effective in clearing out phlegm and other irritants that cause throat irritation.[12]
    • If you're using a spray or drops, use as directed on the container. Ask a doctor or pharmacist if you have any additional questions.[13]
    • If you're using a nasal irrigation system that requires squirting water into the nose, always use sterile water. Microorganism found in tap water can get into the brain through the nose, causing health problems and even death.[14]
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    Try over-the-counter pain medications if your throat is sore. Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can ease pain caused by a sore throat. This can reduce symptoms like coughing and wheezing, which can make a clogged throat worse. As always, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about the medication.[15]

Part 3
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Quit smoking. If you smoke, you should make an effort to quit. Smoking is bad for your overall health. It can make you more susceptible to throat infections such as bronchitis and strep throat. It can also cause overall damage to the throat and vocal cords, resulting in discomfort and congestion. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking.[16]
    • Smoking also predisposes a person to carcinogens which can lead cancer.
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    Invest in a humidifier. Oftentimes, a dry environment can result in throat irritation. Consider purchasing a humidifier if you live in a dry area. Turning a humidifier on during the day or overnight can increase moisture in your home, reducing throat irritation.[17]
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    Avoid straining your voice. If you're prone to frequent throat irritation, evaluate how you speak. Straining your voice can cause a sore throat, resulting in the build up of phlegm.[18]
    • If you have throat irritation, try to avoid coughing. Too much coughing can actually make an infection worse. If necessary, take over-the-counter cough suppressants or lozenges to ease irritation that leads to coughing.[19]
    • Avoid screaming, shouting, or cheering. If you work in a field that requires you to talk loudly, make an effort to rest your voice at the end of the day. Speak softly and try not to raise your voice.[20]
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    Do not clear your throat too often. Coughing, wheezing, and otherwise attempting to clear your throat can sometimes provide momentary relief. However, if you engage in these behaviors too frequently when you have a sore throat this can cause irritation. This could potentially increase the duration of symptoms. If you feel tempted to clear your throat, consider purchasing over-the-counter cough drops or lozenges at the drugstore to provide some relief.
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    Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can both increase dehydration, leading to a dry and irritated throat. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol in excess. For men, limit your alcohol intake to two drinks a night. For women, try to stay around one drink.[21]
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    Seek medical help. A sore or congested throat is not usually a medical concern and should clear up on its own. However, if you remain congested for more than two weeks see your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.
    • Keep in mind that a sore throat and congestion are two separate symptoms that can result in worsening of each individual symptom. Congestion refers to nasal areas and sinus swelling increasing stuffy sensation, while a sore throat refers to pain in the throat. Post nasal drip and cough can worsen sore throats.

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Categories: Respiratory Health