Believe it or not, your toothbrush may be perpetuating—or even causing—your sore throat. Bacteria collect on the bristles, and any injury to the gums during brushing injects these germs into your system. As soon as you start feeling ill, throw away your toothbrush. Often that’s enough to stop the illness in its tracks. “Changing your toothbrush is often recommended for patients with bacterial throat infections to eliminate the spread of infection,” Dr. Abramowitz says.
Soak feet nightly in 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water to eliminate odoriferous bacteria. Or take a daily foot bath in strong black tea (let it cool first) for 30 minutes. Tea's tannins kill bacteria and close the pores in your feet, keeping feet dry longer; bacteria tend to thrive in moist environments. You'll see results in a few days to a week. One caution: Do the soak only when your feet are free of cuts.
Airborne allergies, such as pollen, indoor molds, or dust mites, can cause chronic low-grade throat inflammation. “Allergies are a very common cause of postnasal drip which can lead to throat pain,” Dr. Abramowitz says. To start, try taking a non-drowsy over-the-counter allergy medication containing cetirizine hydrochloride, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Even if that seems to help, “it’s a good idea to get your allergies checked so you know what you’re dealing with,” Dr. Abramowitz says.
Take two enteric-coated peppermint capsules (500 mg each) three times daily. Peppermint kills bacteria that cause bloating and relaxes gastrointestinal muscles for smoother, spasm-free digestion. The enteric coating prevents capsules from opening in the stomach and increasing discomfort by causing heartburn and indigestion. The peppermint releases and goes to work lower in the gastrointestinal tract, where gas-plagued people need it most. (See what your gas is trying to tell you.)
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Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.
It’s good for all kinds of things that affect your muscles, bones, and tendons (the tissues that connect your muscles to your bones), like arthritis, back pain, and joint pain. And warm water can help get blood flow to areas that need it, so gently stretch and work those areas while you’re in there. But don’t make it too hot, especially if you have a skin condition. The ideal temperature is between 92 and 100 F.