St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, and many people will be celebrating with a drink or three. But while alcohol in moderation is okay, too much can cause damage to your throat.
One problem with alcohol is excessive consumption can dehydrate you. This can dry out the throat and leave it irritated. Alcohol can also inflame throat tissue. Both of these can lead to a sore throat. But that’s okay, you may think, because drinking more alcohol will make it feel better. And yes, alcohol will make your throat less sore temporarily, but you’re actually dehydrating yourself even more, which will likely only lead to more discomfort.
Another problem is excessive alcohol consumption can aggravate acid reflux. Acid reflux is when stomach acid reverses direction out of the stomach and into the esophagus and possibly the throat and upper airway. GERD – or gastroesophageal reflux disease – is a severe version of acid reflux. Alcohol can aggravate acid reflux and GERD, so not only can it cause stomach problems, but if the acid backs up into your throat it could cause you even more pain.
If you are going to drink, you should limit your alcohol consumption. In general, men should drink no more than four drinks in one day and women should drink no more than three. That number could be lower, however, depending on how much you drink in a week, if you’re on medicine or have other health problems, or how old you are.
You can help limit your alcohol consumption by eating before you start drinking, and drinking water throughout the day. You should also avoid mixing what types of drinks you have, because it’s harder to keep track of how much alcohol you’ve consumed when the alcohol levels are all different.
Another way you could hurt your throat this St. Patrick’s Day weekend doesn’t have anything to do with drinking, at least not directly. If you and 500 of your closest friends are all crowded into one bar, you’ll probably start shouting so you can be heard. If you do enough of that, you can strain your voice and cause hoarseness. Do your best to minimize how much you shout, or even talk, and you’ll keep your voice healthy and functioning.
St. Patrick’s Day can be fun, but as CEENTA ENT Doctor Michael Sicard, MD, says, three things will keep your throat healthy this weekend. “Moderation, hydration… and the luck of the Irish.”
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. If you do hurt your throat or voice this weekend, make an appointment to get them treated by calling 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.