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No, gargling salt water doesn’t cure a sore throat, but it may help relieve the pain

Gargling salt water can help ease sore throat pain, and health experts say it’s an effective remedy for killing bacteria and loosening mucus.

Cold season is here and many people online are searching for ways to relieve some of their symptoms. 

Sore throats are one of the most common health ailments, according to Penn Medicine. They are typically caused by infections like the common cold, the flu and strep throat, and often go away within a week. 

A top Google search on this topic is “salt water cure sore throat.” And a VERIFY viewer said her mother always told her to immediately gargle a mixture of salt and water whenever she felt her throat getting sore  — but does that mean gargling the mixture can really fix a sore throat?  

THE QUESTION

Does gargling salt water cure a sore throat?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, gargling salt water doesn’t cure a sore throat, but it may help relieve the pain.

WHAT WE FOUND

There are several home remedies many health experts recommend that can help ease a person’s symptoms if they get a sore throat, including gargling salt water. 

Dr. Cole Beeler, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Indiana University, told VERIFY that historically people have gargled salt water to relieve sore throat symptoms.

“Most of these are passed down from generation to generation to generation, and it's just kind of what people have done for symptom relief,” said Dr. Beeler. 

According to Penn Medicine, gargling salt water is an effective remedy for killing bacteria, and it can help loosen mucus and help ease sore throat pain.

To create the mixture, the Mayo Clinic suggests mixing eight ounces of warm water with a half-teaspoon of salt before gargling it. 

Penn Medicine encourages people to schedule an appointment with their doctor or healthcare provider if their sore throat is accompanied by a fever, chills, difficulty swallowing, or the inability to drink fluids because these could be a sign of a more serious illness.

More from VERIFY: No, you shouldn't take expired cold medicine

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