Originally posted January 15, 2019
When the weather is cold and dry, or if you ever sleep with your mouth open, you may find yourself with an uncomfortably dry throat. No one likes this feeling, so today we’re going to discuss ways of treating a dry throat.
In order to properly treat your throat, you have to first know the cause. Many habitual and environmental factors can cause dry throat and possible throat pain. Bringing in dry air in areas with little to no humidity or breathing through your mouth instead of your mouth can increase this likelihood. Dry or itching throats can also be caused by caffeine and alcohol consumption that can reduce your hydration. Smokers can also face this symptom with the hot air removing moisture from their throat, also known as cottonmouth.
In terms of conditions, allergies and acid reflux can lead to dry throat. However, certain medications to treat these conditions can also exacerbate it.
Some common methods for treating a dry throat include:
Keeping your throat hydrated and lubricated is the best way to keep it from getting dry and sore. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, with the best recommendation being at least eight to ten cups of water. Using a humidifier can help bring additional moisture into your surroundings, especially if you live in arid areas or if it's winter. If you wake up in the morning with a dry throat, the steam from a hot shower could help hydrate and lubricate your throat.
If you're experiencing pain from a sore throat, drink warm liquids such as tea with honey. Not only will the tea soothe your throat, but honey has strong antibacterial effects and helps treat coughs, which is useful if your dry throat is related to a cough. If it’s lunchtime, a simple soup with little to no spice can be a simple dry throat treatment. If this is your treatment method, make sure to have the liquid at an appropriate temperature, as hot liquid may make your symptoms feel worse.
Sucking on throat lozenges increases saliva production, which reduces dryness and coats the throat. This additional moisture in your throat, in turn, cuts down on pain and itchiness. Lozenges may contain eucalyptus or menthol to soothe your throat, but non-menthol versions are also available on the market. Before using a lozenge for your dry throat, make sure to read the ingredient list to avoid side effects or allergic reactions.
Gargling water has been a ritual for people right after brushing their teeth, but did you know that it can help with your throat's hydration? Using salt water (created at home and not from the ocean) can help by drawing moisture from surrounding tissue, which in turn can lubricate your throat. However, it is advised to not use too much salt in your solution should you try this method. Too much salt can be counterintuitive and create extra irritation.
If you're experiencing nasal congestion which is causing you to sleep with your mouth open or you have postnasal drip, treating your nasal issues can help with your dry throat. Blowing your nose, using nasal spray or irrigation can help clear your nasal passages if you have a dry, irritated nose.
You can also determine the root cause of your mouth breathing. A deviated septum can limit your ability to breathe, but it can be corrected with a septoplasty. As previously mentioned, allergies can cause your congestion, which can be remedied with an allergy test and treatment with an allergist.
If your symptom is caused by caffeine or alcohol, cut down on both, especially before bed. If you smoke, look into methods to quit such as nicotine gum and patches after consulting a physician. If you have dust allergies keep your house, especially your air ducts, clean and replace your air filter each season. If you have pollen allergies, keep your windows closed and your house as pollen-free as possible.
“If you develop dry throat and feel that you are not improving with adequate hydration and avoidance of alcohol and caffeine and smoking, you should consult your primary care physician,” CEENTA ENT doctor Stephen Clyne, MD, said. “They may end up sending you to an otolaryngologist for further testing and treatment.”
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Clyne practices in our Pineville office. To make an appointment with him or any of our ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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