Karachi (PPI) - Sour throat or pharyngitis is a pharynx inflammation resulting from infection, either by a virus or bacteria. A weak immune system and food allergy are the common causes of sore throat. Non-infectious causes are excessive shouting or singing, allergies, environmental irritants and tobacco use. A sore throat can be painful and irritating, however, you might be surprised to know that simple things in your cupboard can help ease the pain, no matter what the cause. Sore throats can be caused by lots of things. Anything that irritates the sensitive membranes at the back of our throats and mouths - dust, smoke, hot foods, tooth and gum infections, even loud talking or excessive coughing can irritate a throat. However, the majority of sore throats are caused by viral infections, such as the common cold, flu, or others, like mononucleosis. Strep throat, a bacterial infection, is caused by Streptococcus, a common strain of bacteria that can live in your respiratory system for months. Most sore throats will run their course within a few days to a few weeks. If your sore throat follows a cold or allergies, it is most likely viral. However, if it comes on rapidly, is accompanied by a fever, the back of the throat is raw and red, or you have white pus on your tonsils, it may be strep. If your throat is hurting in absence of cold-like symptoms, such as a cough or stuffy nose, it may indicate a strep infection as well. Antibiotics wont help a viral infection; but if it is strep, you should not take it lightly. A doctor will need to test for the bacterial infection and prescribe antibiotics if necessary. The best way to avoid a throat infection is to keep your immune system fortified. Get plenty of rest, reduce stress, exercise and eat healthy. You can also supplement your diet with vitamins (C,E and A are the most common for fighting infection), as well as other nutritional supplements. Zinc has gained a lot of attention recently as an immunity booster. Garlic is thought to be good for fortifying ones immune system too. Whether its viral or bacterial, a sore throat hurts. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve the pain. There are other remedies and tonics that may help, too. Home Remedies for sore throat: Just like mom used to say, gargle with salt water ({ tsp. mixed with 4 oz warm water) every few hours or as needed. Mix a cup of warm water, 2 tsp. honey and the juice of one lemon (or several teaspoons) and sip. Mixing white vinegar, water, salt and crushed vitamin C together, gargle. - Others swear by gargling with chilli pepper (yes, chilli pepper) Capsaicin, the ingredient in chilli pepper that makes them hot, also numbs the throat. Dried chilli or cayenne pepper in a few ounces of water and gargle. Remember to drink plenty of liquids. Orange juice and other acidic juices may irritate a sore throat, so be careful. Some added thoughts and suggestions: A constant tickle or cough could indicate an allergy to certain foods. If sore throat recurs or lasts longer than two weeks, or if you have difficulty swallowing, dont wait; see your doctor. Replace your toothbrush regularly. Any time youve been ill, you should throw away your toothbrush and start fresh (When your not sick, monthly replacement is suggested). If you smoke, stop. And again, drink plenty of liquids. Teas and water are best. Home remedies for headache Headaches are possibly the most common of all health concerns for those of us living in cities today. Headaches are in fact something we have come to regard as a normal occurrence and it has become a norm to simply pop pills to relieve them. Headaches may not be a serious concern but they are not as trivial as we have to regard them. As with any condition the approach to treatment could be of two types - symptomatic and directed towards providing quick relief or for long term benefits, directed towards eliminating the cause itself. For such recurrent problems it is best not to rely on pharmaceutical products that provide quick, but very temporary relief. Natural methods of treatment would be a better option, as this much-neglected avenue of treatment offers greater long term benefits, while posing minimal risks. There are plenty of home remedies and natural methods that you can use to cut down on stress and relieve headaches, not only helping your immediate needs, but also reducing the incidence of such headaches. Here are some popular home remedies for headaches that you can try using. Massage therapy can be extremely effective for stress headaches and you can use a massage oil prepared with a mixture of almond oil, sesame oil, mustard oil and lavender oil. Massaging your scalp and forehead with this oil can offer therapeutic benefits. A paste made from sandalwood powder with a little water can also be applied on the forehead to treat a headache. A towel soaked in warm water and draped around the neck will also help provide relief. You can apply a fine paste of cinnamon over the forehead if the headache is caused by a cold. Aromatherapy baths are also extremely useful as a remedy for most headaches and you can simply soak in a tub of warm water with some aromatherapy oils like lavender added in. In addition to soaks inhalation with steam or diffusers is also believed to help significantly as many aromatherapy oils are known for their soothing effects. In addition to the above mentioned remedies practices like yoga, acupressure, and certain herbal remedies can also offer relief. However, in severe cases it is better to seek the professional advice from competent healthcare practitioner.