While a sore throat has always been a symptom of Covid, experts said that it is becoming more common, and sometimes more severe, with the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron — now, the dominant strain of Covid in the United States.
To soothe an aching throat, “the best approaches are typically what grandma would advise,” said Dr. Michelle Prickett, a pulmonology and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine. Staying hydrated is crucial for alleviating inflammation in the throat, she said. If you don’t want to stick with water, you can substitute a sports drink like Gatorade. People should aim for 1.5 liters of water, or six to eight glasses, each day, said Dr. Abhijit Duggal, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Prickett recommends that people mix about a teaspoon of table salt in warm water and gargle with the solution every few hours. Patients may also use topical anesthetics, like lozenges or cough drops, which can help numb the throat.
You can take over-the-counter decongestants to counter the other coldlike symptoms of Covid, Dr. Prickett said.
However, you also need to support your immune system so you can clear the virus. People sick with BA.5 should avoid alcohol, which can blunt the immune system, and take care of themselves. “The key is really rest,” Dr. Prickett said.