Understanding dry throat: its origins, standard medical care, and natural remedies
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It's not uncommon to have a dry throat, especially in the winter. However, what factors lead to dry throat and what remedies are available?
A dry throat can occur for a variety of reasons. While there are usually harmless explanations, a dry throat could be a symptom of something more serious.
Throat dryness can be uncomfortable and even painful, so this article investigates its root causes, conventional treatments, and natural remedies.
This article discusses the various factors that can lead to a dry throat, as well as the symptoms that accompany it.
Sinusitis, hives, and other allergic reactions
Allergies affect between 30 and 40 percent of the global population. A person's immune system overreacts to environmental substances, causing symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Common precipitants consist of:
- dust mites
- pet hair
- a few foods
Allergens like these trigger the release of histamine by the immune system in people who suffer from seasonal allergies.
The release of histamine during an allergic reaction has been linked to, among other things:
- a cough
- a blocked or watery nose
- irritated mucous membranes, itchy eyes, or mouth
Those who habitually sleep with their mouths open risk waking up with a sore throat. This can also occur if a person starts mouth-breathing while they are unconscious.
Saliva is produced to keep the mouth moist, but when the mouth is open, air can dry it out. Since they didn't drink enough water while sleeping, they may wake up with a dry throat and mouth.
When a person sleeps with their mouth open, they are more likely to snore and develop bad breath.
A dry throat can be a symptom of dehydration. Besides thirst, dehydration manifests itself in other ways, including:
- I'm dying of thirst.
- significantly decreasing one's frequency of urination
- using a lot of dark urine
Insufficient water intake leads to dehydration.
H1N1 virus infection
When you have a cold, you might experience a dry throat. As an umbrella term, "the common cold" refers to a viral infection.
The average adult will catch a cold twice or thrice a year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dryness, scratchiness, or even pain in the throat are all possible side effects of a cold. Additionally, the underlying infection may lead to:
- sneezing, nasal discharge
- a cough
- mild fever
- body aches
Influenza, or the flu, is an infectious respiratory illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the average onset of influenza symptoms is 2 days after infection.
A person with the flu may need bed rest longer than with the common cold.
Mononucleosis can cause a dry, scratchy throat. Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus is the typical trigger for this condition. The most common route of transmission is through a person's saliva.
Common names for mononucleosis include "mono," "kissing disease," and "flu. Although it primarily strikes young adults in their twenties and thirties, anyone of any age can contract the virus.
The symptoms of mono include: a dry, scratchy, or painful throat; a high fever; a persistent cough; and a low grade fever.
- lymph nodes in the neck and underarms are swollen.
- Fragility of muscle
- puffy tonsils
- Persistent perspiration during the night
Although most people feel better after two to four weeks, some people may take longer.
Reflux of Acid
When acid from the stomach rises up into the esophagus, it can cause a dry throat. The acid in the esophagus is responsible for the burning, dryness, and ultimately:
- issues with swallowing
- dry cough
- a voice that is hoarse
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short, is the medical term for this issue. This is because it stimulates the production of stomach acid, which then flows back up the esophagus.
It's possible that tonsilitis causes a dry throat. Tonsillitis can be brought on by bacterial or viral infection. Tonsils are a pair of lymphoid tissue masses located at the back of the throat that aid in the body's defense against bacteria
Tonsillitis is characterized by a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including but not limited to:
- redness, swelling, or pus on the tonsils
- a voice that is hoarse
- lymph nodes in the neck that are swollen
- bad breath
Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause dry throat. A sore, dry throat is the result of a throat infection. Streptococcus pyogenes is the causative organism in this case.
Additional signs of strep throat are:
- reddened, swollen, or spotted tonsils
- throat and neck lymph nodes that are swollen
- sickness and puking
- body aches
What works best to alleviate a dry throat depends on what's causing it.
Itchy eyes, runny nose, and a sneezing fit
Hay fever can cause a dry throat, which can be treated with nasal decongestants.
The following are examples of medical approaches to treating hay fever:
- You can get antihistamines either with a doctor's prescription or from the drug store.
- anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroid pills, drops, or sprays
- decongestants for the nose
- drops for moisturizing the eyes
- immunotherapy against allergens (allergy shots)
One method of treating allergies is through immunotherapy, which involves exposing the patient to the allergen in a safe, escalating dose. In time, this should lead to less severe allergy symptoms as the immune system develops tolerance to the offending substances.
Hay fever sufferers can alleviate their symptoms by upping their intake of the following foods:
- Ginger: The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger may help alleviate hay fever symptoms, as suggested by a 2016 study.
- Quercetin, an antioxidant with antihistamine effects, is abundant in garlic.
- Another excellent food source of quercetin is onions.
The practice of sleeping with one's mouth wide open
Nasal congestion, which can lead to nighttime mouth breathing, can be relieved by:
- decongestants for the nose
- Intranasal corticosteroid sprays
It's possible that a strip of adhesive placed across the bridge of the nose could also help reduce mouth breathing.
If you feel thirsty or dehydrated, drink some fluids. One's urine will be lighter in color, one's urine output will rise, and one's fatigue levels will decrease if they drink more fluids.
To maintain proper hydration levels throughout the day, one should drink plenty of water. Caffeinated beverages, including coffee, should be consumed in moderation, as they can cause dehydration.
The Influenza and Cold Seasons
The following medications and home remedies may help ease cold and flu symptoms:
- Hydrating means to replenish lost body fluids by consuming large quantities of liquids such as water, fruit juice, or lemon water.
- Resting: letting one's body get a good night's sleep in order to heal
- Soothing a dry, sore throat by gargling with water, either plain or salted, is one possible remedy. To alleviate symptoms or prevent upper respiratory tract infections in otherwise healthy people, according to a study conducted in 2005.
- Congestion relief can be achieved with the use of OTC intranasal drops and sprays. In a similar vein, over-the-counter cold and cough medicines can help and relieve pain if taken orally.
- Inhaling humid air may alleviate symptoms of a stuffy nose or sore throat. Also recommended: a steamy shower or vaporizer session.
- Hot compresses applied to the forehead and nose can provide welcome relief from sinus pain and headaches.
Some people have found relief from their mono symptoms by using the following therapies:
- Getting a good night's sleep
- Medicating with ibuprofen or acetaminophen to bring down a fever and ease pain
- Soothing the throat by gargling
Reflux of acidic stomach contents
Some people find that changing their diet and sleeping positions helps with acid reflux.
- Anti-acid drugs, or antacids, are used to reduce acidity in the stomach.
- Keeping a healthy weight: extra pounds put strain on the digestive system, increasing the likelihood that stomach acid will be forced back up the esophagus.
- Choosing loose-fitting garments can help alleviate discomfort in the abdominal area.
- Eating small, frequent meals is helpful for lowering acid reflux symptoms.
- If you want to keep your stomach acid where it belongs, you should avoid smoking.
- Eating less of the foods that trigger your acid reflux, like spicy ones, fatty ones, and caffeine-heavy ones.
Tonsillitis treatments include:
- maintaining water intake
- drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are used to treat pain.
- throat discomfort can be remedied by gargling, breathing in humid air, and sucking on lozenges.
- medication used to treat bacterial infections (antibiotics)
As strep throat is caused by bacteria, an antibiotic is typically prescribed to treat it. The following may also help alleviate symptoms:
- Taking pain relievers or fever reducers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- munching on a lozenge
In addition, a person should consult a medical professional if they experience:
- Issues with swallowing
- shortness of breath or wheezing
- chest pain
- tiredness to the point of collapse
- over 101 degree fever zero degrees Fahrenheit (or thirty-eight degrees Celsius) Temperature of 3 C
And if your dry throat lasts longer than a week or two, you should see a doctor.
The home remedies and over-the-counter medications described here can be purchased electronically. If you have a dry throat, you should only use treatments that are designed to treat the underlying cause. Consult a physician for guidance.
Medically reviewed most recently on March 14, 2018
- Regarding infectious mononucleosis Monday, September 12th, 2016
- Guard against the spread of the common cold. (12 February 2018)
- Virus that causes the flu Time: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2017
- According to Y. Kawamoto , Ueno, Y Nakahashi, E., I. Obayashi; M. K. Sugihara , Qiao, S and... Takeda, K January 2016 Inactivation of T cells is the molecular basis for immunosuppression by 6-gingerol, which is responsible for ginger's ability to prevent allergic rhinitis [Abstract]. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 27:112–122
- K. Satomura T. Kitamura Kawamura, T T. Shimbo; (Watanabe, M.) , Kamei, M ,... Tamakoshi, A (November of 2005) Gargling for the prevention of upper-respiratory infections: a randomized controlled trial [Abstract] Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29(4), 302–307 American Medical Association
- Xie, H , & He, S -H (2005, May 21) The Histamine H1 and H2 Receptors: Their Roles in Allergies and IBD 11(19), 2851–2857, World Journal of Gastroenterology
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