What are my options for relieving a sore throat?

Apart from the obvious pain relief options (you know – taking a pain reliever tablet or capsule) there are several ways you can relieve a sore throat. As a group these are referred to as ‘topical’ therapies as they work directly on the area they are applied to. They include lozenges, sprays and gargles. The Difflam range includes all three options and are different to most others on the market as most Difflam products contain an anti-inflammatory agent – more on the importance of that later.

Let’s start with lozenges. They work by slowly releasing their active ingredients as they dissolve in your mouth. Benefits of a lozenge include rapid relief, no need to swallow anything and you can get them easily from most pharmacies and grocery stores. Lozenges might be a good idea if it’s painful to swallow, or if you’re taking other medications (there are no known drug-interactions with the active ingredient benzydamine.)

If you don’t like the idea of sucking on a lozenge then perhaps a throat spray is what you need. You can spray them directly onto the back of your throat where the pain is for fast, soothing relief. Just a few sprays and you’re done! As with the Difflam range of sore throat lozenges, the active ingredient in Difflam throat sprays, benzydamine, doesn’t have any known drug-interactions, so you have peace of mind if you’re also taking other medications.

Have you ever experienced the joy of gargling? Perhaps as a kid in the playground with water or perhaps your parents made you gargle when you had a sore throat? It can be a good idea, as gargling can help reduce the discomfort of a sore throat. Look for throat gargles that contain antibacterial, anaesthetic or anti-inflammatory ingredients (or ideally a combination).

Is iodine an option?

Iodine, when joined with povidone, is thought to be able to kill the widest range of bacteria compared to other common antiseptics. So gargling with a product containing povidone-iodine can help aid in the treatment of sore throat.

In fact, Iodine helps reduce bacteria when used at the first sign of sore throat symptoms.

What do those terms mean?

So far we have used the terms anti-this and anti-that, but what do they mean and how do they apply to sore throat relief?

If something is antibacterial it means that it works to destroy or stop the growth or reproduction of bacteria. In the case of sore throat, bacteria are not often the cause, but your mouth and throat are host to a whole world of bacteria, most of whom play a helpful role. However, ‘bad’ bacteria getting in and setting up shop, or helpful bacteria being thrown off balance can lead to infections that may cause a sore throat. So having an antibacterial agent included in a product for soothing sore throats can help kill the bacteria that causes throat and mouth infections.

An anaesthetic (spelled anesthetic in the USA) is an agent that causes a loss of sensation, awareness or numbness. They can either apply to the whole body, rendering you unconscious (a general anaesthetic) or only to a specific section (a local anaesthetic). For sore throat relief we are talking about a local anaesthetic. Because they can numb a small area when applied directly to it, they are good ingredients to include in things like throat lozenges, gargles or sprays as they can be applied directly to the site of pain.

An anti-inflammatory does what it says on the label – preventing or reducing inflammation. It might sound odd to include an anti-inflammatory in a sore throat product but most of the discomfort you feel from a sore throat is actually caused by your body’s response to the infection. Your immune system creates inflammation at the site of the infection to help kill the virus, sadly it’s this response that is most likely the cause of the pain and discomfort you feel. What is a bit unusual is that a lot of sore throat solutions don’t include an anti-inflammatory!

Treating and relieving a sore throat

Povidone-iodine is thought to be able to kill the widest range of bacteria, so gargling with a product like Difflam Sore Throat Gargle with Iodine can help to treat a sore throat. While treating the sore throat, remember you can get immediate relief from the pain and discomfort with a lozenge, throat spray or gargle. Just make sure you know what you’re getting – look for something that contains an anti-inflammatory, anaesthetic and/or antibacterial ingredient like those found in the Difflam range of sore throat products.

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Frequently asked questions about treating and relieving sore throats


The Difflam Sore Throat Gargle with Iodine can help treat a sore throat. It also comes in Fresh Mint flavour and is available as either a concentrate (you dilute this with water) or in a ready-to-go liquid.


Lozenges should be placed in the mouth and sucked or left to dissolve on their own – don’t chew or crunch them up as they are designed to slowly release their active ingredients.


Throat sprays are designed to be applied directly to the site of pain or inflammation. The Difflam range of throat sprays utilise a multi-directional nozzle so you can get targeted relief.


Gargling means holding liquid in your mouth, tiling back your head and exhaling so the liquid bubbles, then spitting out the liquid.