Is ice cream good for a sore throat? It can be if it makes your throat feel better, but it has no healing powers over a sore throat. There's also no evidence that ice cream is bad for a sore throat. The most important thing about a sore throat is not to ignore it.
"As far as what to eat or drink for a sore throat, there is no good evidence for or against anything. Cold ice cream or a cold drink may soothe your throat — and so may warm tea with honey. Whatever works for you is best," says Susan Evans, MD, a family health specialist in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
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What Causes a Sore Throat?
Most sore throats are caused by a cold virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Only about 1 in 10 sore throats in adults are strep throat, caused by bacteria. Other possible causes are allergies, dryness and irritation from fumes or smoke. Any of these causes can make your throat feel sore or scratchy and make it painful to swallow.
See you doctor for any sore throat lasting more than a week or that causes swollen glands in your neck or white patches in your throat, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"It is always important to rule out strep throat that needs to be treated with antibiotics," Dr. Evans says. "A basic rule is that a sore throat with a cough is probably viral, not strep. However, in the age of COVID-19, we are now advising any patient with a sore throat to call the doctor and get checked for COVID."
What to Eat or Drink for a Sore Throat
"If you have been checked with a throat swab and you don't have COVID or strep, the best treatment for your sore throat is home care. The best home care is based more on experience than any evidence from studies," Dr. Evans says.
Warm fluids help break up mucus and soothe a sore throat, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Cold foods or liquids may also help alleviate the soreness as well, per the CDC. Dr. Evans advises saltwater gargles. For the salt water, use 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water. You can do this often to relieve soreness and swelling during the day, but spit it out. Don't swallow.
Here are some other tips for soothing a sore throat suggested by the CDC, Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Evans:
- Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Try ice chips, ice cream or an ice pop for relief.
- Try tea with lemon or honey, or broth for warm relief. (Honey may also help with a cough, but do not give honey to children under age 1.)
Other Home Care for a Sore Throat
These experts also agree on the following additional home care remedies:
- Rest at home until you feel better.
- Rest your voice.
- Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Use a humidifier or vaporizer to avoid dryness.
- Take a hot shower to break up mucus.
- For adults, try a numbing over-the-counter throat spray.
- Try sucking on a throat lozenge or hard candy (not for children under age 2, as these may be choking hazards).
- Try acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed for pain relief, but check with your doctor before giving any over-the-counter medications to children.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you don't have COVID or strep throat, you should be able to recover at home safely, but Dr. Evans says to watch for some red flags.
If you have any of these symptoms, she says, call your doctor:
- High fever
- Inability to drink fluids
- Any trouble breathing
- Any trouble swallowing
- A change in your voice (muffled or hoarse)
- Inability to open your mouth or swallow your saliva
- Swelling in your neck
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.