University Health Service

a student with sore throat

You can soothe a sore throat as follows: 

  • Drink hot tea with lemon and honey. Opt for herbal or decaf tea.
  • Gargle with warm salt-water. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of regular table salt in 8 ounces (240 ml) of warm water, gargle for a few seconds, spit it out, then repeat a few times. Do this three times a day. Wondering if gargling really works? Read this brief New York Times article about a research study on the effectiveness of gargling.
  • To relieve pain and reduce inflammation, take ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or generic versions of these medicines, following package directions.
  • Keep your throat moist by using a vaporizer or sucking on throat lozenges, ice or popcicles. Some lozenges also help relieve pain. 
  • Refrain from smoking. Smoking makes it hard to eliminate mucous and may predispose you to bronchitis or pneumonia. This would be a good time to consider quitting -- See Tobacco Cessation Help. If you choose not to quit, try not to smoke during your illness.

Call for advice if you have any of these:

  • Difficulty swallowing liquids that prevents you from drinking
  • White or yellow spots in throat
  • Pain that is persistent, severe or increasing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A new rash or fever
  • Signs of dehydration

For U-M students and other UHS patients, call for Nurse Advice by Phone, day or night. Calling may save you a trip. 

UHS can do rapid strep testing. Your throat and tonsils would be swabbed to collect a sample, which would be analyzed for strep (streptococcal) bacteria.  Results would be available at your visit.

For currently enrolled U-M students on the Ann Arbor campus, there is no fee for phone advice, clinic visits or most laboratory tests.

For more information: