If you’re experiencing a sensation of dryness, irritation, or discomfort in the throat, often accompanied by a lack of moisture or saliva in your mouth as well, it’s possible that you’re suffering from a dry throat.
In some cases, a dry throat can be considered a symptom of an underlying condition, though it can also be caused by external factors, such as irritants in the air or increased airflow due to mouth breathing that reduces moisture in the your throat.
The best remedy for a dry throat requires you to eliminate the specific cause or trigger, and may range from proper hydration to eliminating allergens that are causing it to treating conditions like sleep apnea that cause mouth breathing.
Symptoms of a dry throat
A dry throat will cause a bunch of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Feeling of scratchiness or roughness in the throat
- Persistent or intermittent discomfort or irritation
- Difficulty swallowing or a sensation of a lump in the throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness or voice changes
- Soreness or pain in the throat
- Dry or itchy sensation
Causes and solutions of dry throat
The root cause of a dry throat can vary, and so will the remedy, as follows:
Insufficient fluid intake or excessive fluid loss can lead to dehydration, causing dryness in the throat.
Remedy: You simply need to increase your fluid intake and maintain proper hydration. Drinking water regularly throughout the day can help alleviate dryness. A good target is 15 cups for men and 11 cups for women. Moreover, studies show that adults get about one-third of their fluids from their meals, especially fruits and vegetables.
At the same time, you should avoid excessive intake of dehydrating substances like caffeine, sodas, and alcohol. In severe cases of dehydration, oral rehydration solutions or intravenous fluids may be necessary.
2. Environmental factors
Dry air, particularly in arid climates or heated indoor environments, can contribute to a dry throat.
Remedy: Using a humidifier in indoor environments, including in your bedroom when going to bed, can help add moisture to the air, relieving throat dryness. Increasing water intake and using saline nasal sprays or rinses can also help keep the nasal passages moist, reducing the need for mouth breathing and minimizing throat dryness.
3. Mouth breathing
Breathing through the mouth, especially during sleep or due to nasal congestion, can lead to a dry throat.
Remedy: If mouth breathing contributes to a dry throat, addressing the underlying cause is crucial. For nasal congestion, using over-the-counter nasal decongestants, nasal strips, or saline nasal sprays can help open the nasal passages, allowing for easier breathing through the nose.
In some cases, seeking medical evaluation for chronic nasal congestion or breathing issues may be necessary to identify and treat the underlying cause with an appropriate oral appliance to reposition your jaw, or CPAP (continuous positive airway therapy) to maintain optimal airflow while asleep.
Exposure to irritants such as smoke, pollutants, allergens, or chemicals can cause dryness and irritation in the throat. Some irritants that can trigger your immune response include dust mites, mold, pollen, grass, and pet dander, leading to symptoms like sneezing, stuffed nose, cough, and itchy eyes, skin, and mouth. Any resulting congestion can force you to start breathing through your mouth, resulting in a dry throat.
Remedy: Avoiding exposure to irritants is key to managing throat dryness. This may involve minimizing exposure to secondhand smoke, vacuuming your carpets and upholstery, using dust mite-proof mattress covers, cleaning up mold in your bathroom, avoiding pets, wearing protective masks in polluted environments, using air purifiers, and identifying and avoiding specific allergens or chemicals that trigger throat irritation by staying indoors.
You can also manage the symptoms by gargling with warm saltwater for temporary relief and to soothe the throat. Other possible treatments include allergy shots, decongestants, antihistamines, and eye allergy drops.
Viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or throat infections, can result in a dry throat as a symptom.
Remedy: Treating the underlying viral or bacterial infection may involve following a prescribed treatment plan such as antibiotics, if necessary, in addition to getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and/or using over-the-counter pain relievers or throat lozenges for symptomatic relief. Seeking medical advice is important to determine the appropriate course of action.
6. Acid reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux can cause stomach acid to flow back into the throat, leading to throat dryness and irritation.
Remedy: Managing acid reflux may require lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals, avoiding lying down immediately after eating, and elevating the head during sleep. In some cases, medications that reduce stomach acid production or neutralize acid may be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
7. Sore Throat
A sore throat can cause dryness due to inflammation and irritation of the throat tissues.
Remedy: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, in addition to gargling with warm saltwater, using over-the-counter throat lozenges or sprays for temporary relief, and avoiding irritants like smoke and dry air. In some cases, over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to alleviate discomfort.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which can lead to swelling and discomfort in the throat. The inflamed tonsils can cause a sensation of dryness in the throat.
Remedy: Options for relieving symptoms and treating the underlying infection may include rest, staying hydrated, using over-the-counter pain relievers, gargling with warm saltwater, and following the prescribed treatment plan if antibiotics are necessary. In severe or recurrent cases, surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be recommended.
Mononucleosis, or mono, is a viral infection that can result in inflammation of the throat and tonsils, leading to a dry throat.
Remedy: Resting, staying hydrated, using over-the-counter pain relievers, and consuming soothing liquids or foods like warm soup or broth can provide relief. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate management and to avoid activities that may strain the liver or spleen during the recovery period.
Laryngitis is the inflammation of the larynx, or voice box. It can cause hoarseness and irritation in the throat, which may result in a dry throat.
Remedy: Resting the voice, staying hydrated, avoiding irritants like smoking and excessive talking, using a humidifier, and drinking warm fluids can help relieve symptoms. In some cases, voice therapy or medications prescribed by a healthcare professional may be necessary for vocal cord healing and symptom relief.
Certain medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics, and some antidepressants, can have the side effect of causing dryness in the throat and mouth.
Remedy: Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, using over-the-counter saliva substitutes or artificial saliva products to moisturize the throat, and maintaining good oral hygiene. If dry throat persists or becomes bothersome, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can review the medications and potentially adjust the dosage or switch to an alternative medication.
Smoking irritates the throat and can cause chronic inflammation. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can lead to dryness and discomfort in the throat.
Remedy: Quitting smoking is the most effective remedy for addressing a dry throat caused by smoking. Additionally, staying hydrated, avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, and using a humidifier can help alleviate symptoms. It’s important to seek support from healthcare professionals, support groups, or smoking cessation programs to successfully quit smoking.
Quick Home Remedies for a Dry Throat
As observed above, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate dry throat symptoms and provide relief. From simple solutions like gargling with saltwater to enjoying a cup of herbal tea, these remedies are easy to implement and can make a significant difference in managing your dry throat.
Here are some solutions to try today:
- Gargling with Saltwater: The antibacterial properties of saltwater help kill bacteria and provide relief from dry throat. Gargle with a mixture of warm water and salt to alleviate discomfort.
- Honey: Mix honey in warm water or tea and consume it several times a day. Honey’s natural antibacterial properties can reduce inflammation and offer pain relief.
- Hot Sauce: A small amount of hot sauce mixed with warm water can help manage inflammation and provide relief.
- Lemon: Squeeze fresh lemon juice into warm water and drink it multiple times a day. Lemon helps break up mucus, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system.
Herbal Teas for Dry Throat:
- Clove tea: With its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, clove tea fights infections and relieves throat discomfort.
- Green tea: Similar to clove tea, green tea possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits that help fight bacteria and reduce inflammation.
- Raspberry tea: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, raspberry tea reduces inflammation and eases throat pain.
- Chamomile tea: Chamomile acts as a natural lubricant, soothes a hoarse voice, and provides pain relief.
- Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea relieves throat pain and reduces inflammation.
- Air Humidifier: Use a humidifier to keep the air moist, especially during dry seasons, providing additional relief for your throat.
- Warm and Cold Fluids: Sip on warm fluids like tea and soups or try cold liquids like ice water and popsicles to soothe your throat and keep it hydrated.
- Rest: Allow your body and voice to rest by going to bed early and elevating your head for better comfort.
As with any health condition, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and personalized advice based on the specific cause and severity of the dry throat.