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Bacteria, like all cells, require enough water content in order to survive. There is a natural tendency for substances of high concentration to move to one of low concentration. Saltwater has a lower water content than that of your throat or the bacteria in it, so when you introduce a high enough concentration of saltwater into your mouth (low water content), the higher content of water in bacterial cells is drawn by osmosis toward the saltwater.

Like any living organism, the bacteria can't survive without enough water. Of course they recover pretty quickly, which is why you need to gargle a couple of times a day until they're history.

Gargling with a mild, warm saltwater solution is an old remedy for a sore throat, and a fairly effective one as well.

Sore throats are typically caused by infection, either from nasal drip from a sinus infection or other bacteria. Most people don't think about it, but the mouth is one of the dirtiest places in our bodies - human bites become infected very easily. If the throat is already irritated or infected, bacteria from eating food can make it worse. The saltwater acts as a natural disinfectant, though it's important not to use too much or you can actually burn your throat.

Think of it as nature's "Listerine", without the nasty taste. The recommended mix is 1/4 - 1/2 tablespoon of salt per 8 ounces of water. Works great if you get laryngitis as well.

Saltwater "snorts" are also a common therapy for those who have sinus problems. In addition to killing bacteria, it helps dry out the sinus cavity. Warm, moist, and dark environments are where bacteria thrive.

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13y ago
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11y ago

When you have a sore throat it is usually caused by micro-organisms causing irritation of the mucous tissue, but it can also be inflammation from overuse (such as when you have a sore throat and are hoarse from screaming at a sporting event) or from caustic or acidic and damaging chemicals or other injury to the area. By gargling salt water, the salt diffuses through the micro organism's cellular membrane which leads to the micro organism becoming dehydrated. This can help kill/inactivate the organism. Saline (salt water) makes up a large portion of our body fluids and our tissues have developed in a way that salt water is soothing to mucous tissue that is inflamed either by irritation or by infection. The gargle mixture is usually made with warm water, which increases the blood flow to the area to help heal more quickly.

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In other words, sodium chloride (salt) has natural antibacterial properties, which help to kill the bacteria that are causing the sore throat or toothache. Another way it helps a sore throat is by helping to remove the mucus in the throat so it feels better, the area stays clean and free of the wastes that are produced from the body's reaction to the invading organism or inflammation, which can add to the soreness. Also when the inflammation is reduced, swelling of tissue is reduced and more blood can flow through to heal the area, in addition to the simple action of soothing the inflammation of body tissues.

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11y ago

The salt will naturally kill certain germs and it helps soothe and coat the irritated and sometimes broken surface that is present during a sore throat.. it does not however replace antibiotics when needed , it just helps keep it clean and soothes

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14y ago

A warm saltwater gargle is an old (and effective) remedy for killing potential bacteria in the mouth and throat that can cause illness.

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Q: Why do you gargle with salt water when you have a sore throat or toothache?
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Related questions

How can you get rid of minor toothache?

I would gargle warm salt water :)

Is making salt water to gargle for a sore throat a chemical change?

Making salt water to gargle for a sore throat is not a chemical change. This is because the salt can be extracted from the water.

Is making salt water to gargle for sore throat is chemical change?

Making salt water to gargle for a sore throat is not a chemical change. This is because the salt can be extracted from the water.

Making salt water to gargle for a sore throat is a?


What can you do against a sore throat?

gargle warm salt water

How do you cure a sore throat quickly?

Gargle with salt water

What to gargle with for head cold?

Use salt water to gargle. Salt water will draw out edema fluid, killing bacteria causing the sore throat.

How do you cure simple throat pain?

gargle with luke warm salt water

What is the purpose of using gargle?

after brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth

What are the treaments for a sore throat?

You put salt in water and gargle it for 15 seconds or so.

Is a crushed aspirin better than salt water gargle for sore throat?

Don't crush the aspirin, it will irritate your throat. Swallow it normally and then do a salt water rinse.

Is making salt water to gargle for a soar throat a physical change?

Dissolution is a physical change.