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 Motrin, Tylenol, or Advil, or generic versions of these medicines, following package directions.
  • Keep your throat moist by using a vaporizer or sucking on throat lozenges or ice cubes made from fruit juice. 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.

When to seek medical care:

It's recommended to consult a health care provider 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 UHS and ask for Nurse Advice. Call 734-764-8320, day or night. 

At UHS, you may receive a rapid strep test. 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.

Have other symptoms? See also Colds and Flu.

Tips for academic success when you are sick:

See Tips for Academic Success While You are Sick.

For more information: