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Friday, December 8, 2023

Ice cream and sore throat

When dealing with a sore throat, reaching for ice cream is a common instinct. But is this chilly treat really an effective remedy?

Each year, millions of people globally experience sore throat, a condition so prevalent that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it accounts for over 12 million healthcare visits in the U.S. alone.

While ice cream can offer temporary relief due to its cold and soothing texture, its effectiveness and impact on throat health are worth a closer examination, according to online platform Healthline.

According to physicians, while ice cream can ease sore throat discomfort, it’s important to remember it is not a substitute for professional medical advice, especially in cases of severe or persistent symptoms.

A composition of various flavours ice cream balls decorated with red fruits, chocolate curls and mint

The soothing effect: fact or fiction?
First off, the coldness of ice cream can, indeed, provide temporary relief. When you’re grappling with a sore throat, the chill factor of ice cream numbs the area, reducing the pain sensation. It’s like applying a cold pack to a sprain, but internally. This isn’t just a whimsical idea.

According to experts at Mayo Clinic, a leading nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research, cold foods like ice cream can be soothing for sore throats.
But wait, there’s a catch! While ice cream cools the throat, its high dairy content might not be the best for throat health. Dairy products can increase mucus production in some people, as noted by Harvard Health Publishing, the consumer health education division of Harvard Medical School. This isn’t ideal when you’re already dealing with throat congestion.

While ice cream cools the throat, its high dairy content might not be the best for throat health

Sugar: A sore throat’s frenemy
The sugar in most ice creams is another double-edged sword. Sure, it tastes great, but WebMD, a leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information, points out that too much sugar can weaken your immune system. A weaker immune system can mean a longer recovery time from your sore throat.

Lactose intolerance and dairy sensitivity
If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, that comforting scoop of ice cream might bring more trouble than relief. Symptoms like bloating and diarrhea are the last things you need when you’re already unwell. Medical News Today, an online medical news outlet, emphasizes the importance of understanding your body’s reactions to dairy.

Alternative soothers
Dealing with a sore throat can be a real hassle, but there are effective and simple ways to alleviate the discomfort as follow:

Stay hydrated: Keep your throat moist by drinking plenty of fluids. Water is great, but warm teas or broths can also be soothing. Healthline emphasizes that staying hydrated is key to healing a sore throat.

Gargle with salt water: Gargling with a mixture of a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water can reduce swelling and cleanse the throat. The Mayo Clinic supports this as a method to kill bacteria and loosen mucus.

Honey and lemon: Mix honey and lemon in warm water or tea for a soothing effect. Harvard Health Publishing notes the antibacterial properties of honey, especially effective for coughs that often accompany sore throats.

Humidify your air: Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air can be very comforting for a sore throat, especially in dry environments.

Avoid irritants: Stay away from smoke and other irritants. The American Academy of Family Physicians advises a clean, smoke-free environment to prevent worsening your sore throat.

These methods are simple yet effective for quick relief. However, remember that they are not a substitute for professional medical advice. If your sore throat is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms, consult a healthcare professional.

The bottom line
Indulging in a little ice cream might provide temporary relief for your sore throat, but it’s not the best cure. The sugar and dairy in ice cream could potentially prolong your recovery.

Listening to your body and choosing throat soothers that match your health needs is essential. And, when in doubt, always consult with a healthcare professional. So next time you’re eyeing that ice cream to soothe your sore throat, remember: it might feel good momentarily, but there are healthier and more effective ways to get relief.

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