What Causes a Dry Throat at Night? Treatment and Remedies

why does my throat hurt at night

Dry throat at night is probably one of the most annoying things many people experience before going to bed. Though a tickly throat is pretty common and may not seem like a big deal (especially during winter season as the air is dry and upper respiratory infections are common), this simple annoyance could cause significant damage to your oral health

What may seem like a small problem can lead to serious health consequences. When the mouth is perpetually dry, it becomes susceptible to bacterial growth and infection.  

Why does my throat hurt at night?

Whether it’s something new to you or you have experienced it for a long time, there are many reasons your mouth may not be producing enough saliva. Naturally, your body slows down its saliva production at night, since there is nothing to digest. Obviously, if you’re a midnight-snacker, then your body will produce more saliva to help you digest food. 

Other causes of oral dryness include allergies, acid reflux, dehydration, common cold, flu, sleeping with mouth open, to name a few. 

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the most common causes of dry throat at night. 

Allergies

Allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) happens when the body becomes too sensitive to particles that enter through the airway. This triggers the increase of mucus production causing an inflammation in the nasal passages. Some of the most common allergens include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Smoke

Symptoms for hay fever include congested and stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, tiredness, and of course, dry mouth and throat. 

Nose congestion can also cause you to breathe through your mouth, which can further dry the throat. 

allergic throat hurt every night

Treatment and Prevention

If you notice the onset of symptoms, you can treat the problem and prevent it from getting worse. Here are some of the treatment options available. 

  • OTC and prescription medications – antihistamines, decongestants, etc., are the common treatment for dry throat and runny nose caused by allergies
  • Air conditioning – air blown from fans come with particles that could trigger allergies. Thus, air conditioning is better when trying to stay cool
  • Wear glasses – allergen particles could enter your eyes and rubbing your eyes could only aggravate the problem.
  • Keep surrounding clean – remove any potential allergen and irritants

Acid Reflux

Also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), acid reflux is a condition where acid from the stomach pushes back up to the esophagus (the pipe that runs through your mouth to the stomach and carries food). This causes burning sensation in the chest (more commonly known as heartburn), dry cough, difficulty swallowing, and of course dry throat.

Treatment and Prevention

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dehydration, a good rule of thumb is to consume half an ounce of per day for each pound of body weight. 

Thus, a person who weighs 200 lbs. should drink 100 oz. of water a day. Those who live in hotter climates or perform strenuous activities on a regular basis must drink more fluids. 

Dehydration

Saliva plays a huge role in oral health. Aside from moistening the food and making it easy to swallow, it cleans and lubricates the mouth and promotes and remineralization of the teeth. It also contains antibacterial properties to ward off bacteria and prevent bacterial growth and infections. For your body to produce enough saliva, you need to be properly hydrated.

Treatment and Prevention

People who experience dry throat due to GERD should take antacids (i.e. Maalox and Rolaids) to neutralize stomach acids, H2 inhibitors (cimetidine) to reduce acid production in the stomach, and/or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs i.e. omeprazole) to block acid production. 

They are also encouraged to lose weight, maintain healthy weight, eat several small meals a day, and quit smoking. It is also best to avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, mint, and any food that triggers heartburn. 

Mononucleosis

Dry and scratchy throat could also be a symptom of Mononucleosis. More commonly known as “kissing disease”, Mononucleosis is an infection passed on through saliva. 

Other symptoms of this infection include:

  • swollen lymph nodes in armpits and neck
  • swollen tonsils
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • night sweats
  • muscle weakness

Treatment and Prevention

There is no specific treatment for this infection and antibiotics don’t work against viral infection. The best course of treatment is to rest, eat healthy food, and drink plenty of fluids. 

Tonsillitis

Both bacteria and viruses could cause infection in the tonsils. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • red swollen tonsils, white patches on the tonsils
  • hoarse voice
  • fever
  • headache
  • bad breath

throat hurt nightly why

Treatment and Prevention of a Sore Throat

For bacterial tonsillitis, doctors prescribe antibiotics. For viral tonsillitis however, there are no medications available. The condition will improve on its own within a week up to 10 days. 

However, this also means you need to take care of your body. Make sure to get some rest, gargle (with warm water and a pinch of salt), drink plenty of fluids, as well as take over-the-counter pain relievers and lozenges. 

If you find yourself constantly asking “why does my throat hurt at night” even with the remedies suggested above, it is time to see a doctor. You want to make sure that it isn’t a sign of something more serious.

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Dr. Manish Shah tmj and sleep specialist

Dr. Manish Shah

  • BDS, MBBS, MMED (Sleep Medicine)
  • Masters in Sleep Medicine
  • General Medical Practitioner
  • General, Implant and Cosmetic Dentist
  • Certified in TMJ & Craniofacial Pain Management
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