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.

For more information: