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: You Can Quit!. 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:

  • Difficulty swallowing liquids
  • White or yellow spots in throat, or
  • Increased pain after 3 days

First call UHS, which may save you a trip. Call 734-764-8320, option 2, and ask for Nurse Advice. A nurse will return your call, assess your situation by phone, then she may prescribe medication, offer self-care advice, and/or arrange for you to visit to UHS. (When UHS is closed, you may call 866-204-1082 for urgent health concerns). 

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: