Allergies are back with a vengeance in America’s Heartland as we transition from winter to spring. Usually, when Spencer starts getting sinus headaches I know it’s time to stock up on local honey and start my daily dose of loratadine. It’s always better to take preventive action with allergies rather than react. But thanks to my blissfully exhausting baby-centric life as of late, my allergies totally snuck up on me this year. So grab some tissues, turn on your humidifiers and let’s go over how I got rid of my head-poundingly painful scratchy throat in just three days.

When I was little, I suffered strep throat chronically so my parental units whisked me off to a doctor every time my throat started to hurt. Usually, it was just allergies. The tell-tale sign of strep are white spots at the back of the throat, so check before running to the doctor. Regardless of if it was strep or allergies, the doc would say, “Gargle with warm, salt water.” But even when my throat hurt so bad I was driven to gargle every 15 minutes, the salt water never really did much for the raw discomfort I was suffering. If you can stomach the taste of apple cider vinegar, I suggest gargling that instead.

Cough drops are a lifesaver when allergies get on top of you. Mentholated is preferable since they actually numb the throat to provide pain relief, but they’re not a one-and-done solution. Keep taking them throughout the day to reap the benefits and keep that scratchiness at bay. They’ll save you from public coughing fits and losing your voice, though, which is worth it in my book.

Stay hydrated. This is important for everyday life but should become your top priority when it comes to sore throats. All the benefits of drinking water aside, keeping hydrated will dilute your mucus to help you feel better faster. A dry throat increases your risk of getting sicker. Just stay away from cold liquids, which can make things worse.

A hot, steamy shower will bring you some relief. Start and end your day with one. Or if you have a facial steamer, you can use that. No facial steamer? No problem. Run some hot water in the sink then lean over it with a towel draped over your head for the same effect. And if you don’t have a humidifier like I mentioned earlier, boil some water on the stove for 30 minutes to add moisture to the air. If you have any Vicks VapoRub, add some of that to it.

Warm liquids soothe your throat. Eat some soup or try drinking some room temperature pineapple juice. I drink tea every day, too, but double down on the servings once my throat starts scratching. You should definitely consider drinking tea if you don’t already. There is seriously a tea for everyone out there – as well as every mood, ailment, et cetera. My tea recommendations to soothe sore throats are chamomile, green, horehound, turmeric or anything with licorice root, marshmallow root or slippery elm. For extra relief, add lemon and honey to your warm beverage.

While you’re at it, eat a spoonful honey for nearly instantaneous relief. It coats your throat in the most delightful way and overrides the icky mucus taste. Bonus points if it’s local honey. Pollen from your area will boost your immune system against the seasonal, geographical allergies most likely to affect you. Not to mention the taste of local honey is a thousand times better than that cheap, national store-brand crap, which is ultra-filtered to remove all pollen (and, in turn, flavor.)

Changing your diet will help, too. Boost your immune system by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Then spice up your meals with garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. Garlic has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties thanks to the chemical allicin. If you’re hardcore, eat it raw.

And of course, if all else fails, there’s an assortment of over-the-counter medications to choose from including throat sprays, cough syrup, nasal decongestants, and antihistamines. As I mentioned before, I usually start taking loratadine before my allergy symptoms pop up, but this year – whoops. Letting the honey run dry didn’t help, either.

After three days of serious TLC following the tips I’ve shared with you here, I’m happily back to 100% so I hope these tricks will help you, too. Let me know if any of these at-home remedies worked to beat your allergies. If not, share your sneeze-stopping secrets in the comments below!

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