How to Prevent Dry Throat at Night
Published April 22, 2022
Waking up in the middle of the night with a dry, scratchy throat can be annoying. Not only is your sleep disturbed but you’ll most likely have to walk to the kitchen to drink some water. Even if you keep a glass of water on your nightstand, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to go back to sleep afterward.
Having a dry throat at night, however, is pretty common, especially during winter. Most of the time, it goes away on its own. But if it happens often, that could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
To prevent your throat from drying out at night, your first need to determine what causes it.
What Causes Dry Throat at Night?
A dry throat can be caused by a myriad of factors. Some of the most common ones are:
1. Stuffy Nose
When your nose is stuffy, you tend to breathe through your mouth. This, in turn, causes it to dry up leaving your throat feeling scratchy.
There are lots of factors that can get your nose all clogged up. The most common culprits are colds, flu, allergy, and sinus infections. Though nasal deformities and certain medical conditions may also prevent you from breathing through your nose.
2. Cold Dry Air
Because winter air has very low humidity, what little moisture that’s left in the environment gets sucked out. So as you inhale the cold dry winter air, moisture evaporates from your body leaving your nose, mouth, and throat parched.
In most cases, a dry throat at night is a symptom of dehydration. When your body doesn’t get enough water, it also struggles to produce the saliva necessary to keep your mouth and throat moist.
4. Sleeping With Your Mouth Open
Keeping your mouth open for a long period of time dries out your saliva which also leads to a dry throat.
Some people open their mouths unconsciously when they sleep. It’s especially common in people with sleep apnea as they often struggle to breathe through their nose when asleep.
People suffering from stress and anxiety may also experience shortness of breath and a feeling of being smothered. This, in turn, leads many to struggle for air and sleep with their mouth slightly ajar.
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AOOM), there are over 1,100 medications that can potentially cause xerostomia or dry mouth. This includes common over-the-counter medicines like decongestants, antihistamines, antacids, and high blood pressure medications among others.
If you have seasonal allergies, your immune system tends to release a substance called histamine. This is our body’s way of trying to get rid of pathogens that it perceives as threats.
Unfortunately, these histamines do more than just expel harmful pathogens from our bodies. It can also cause various allergy symptoms like cough, stuffy nose, inflammations, and dry throat among others.
7. Kissing Disease
Mononucleosis or “kissing disease” is a contagious infection caused by a type of herpes virus. As the name suggests, it’s commonly spread through contact with saliva. Though it mostly affects teens and young adults, anyone can get it at any age.
Aside from fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes, this disease can also cause dry, scratchy, and sore throat.
8. GERD or Acid Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus and mouth. Aside from heartburn, the refluxed acid can also irritate the linings of your esophagus and throat. This, in turn, dries out your throat making swallowing and even speaking difficult.
When left untreated, it can weaken the lining of your throat making it more prone to ulcers and scar tissue.
A dry throat is one of the first symptoms of tonsillitis. When your tonsils are inflamed, your throat feels very sore, and swallowing or even drinking water can be very painful. In general, the drier your throat is, the worse the pain will be.
10. Old Age
Dry throat, especially at night, is more common in older adults because our saliva components tend to change as we age. According to a 2021 study, our saliva contains lesser metabolites the older we get. This, in turn, can cause xerostomia and dry throat.
How to Prevent Your Throat From Drying Out at Night
Preventing dry throat at night depends on what causes your throat to dry out in the first place. But in general, you can prevent your throat from drying out by:
- Drinking enough water. Keeping yourself hydrated ensures that your mouth can produce the saliva it needs to keep your oral cavities moist.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Sugar can upset your mouth’s pH balance causing it to become more acidic and dry.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Coffee and booze can trigger GERD which, as you know, causes dry throat.
- Avoid allergy triggers. Both allergy and anti-allergy medicines can dry out your throat so avoiding allergy triggers are your best bet.
- Use a humidifier. This can moisten the air in your room and prevent your throat from drying out.
- Use nasal strips. If you’re having sinus or congestion problems, applying adhesive nasal strips to the bridge of your nose can help. It helps to naturally open your nasal passages thus helping you breathe better.
- Suck on a sugarless probiotic lozenge like Bionaze. The motion of sucking on a candy or lozenge stimulates saliva production in your mouth. Plus, probiotics can help boost your oral health by restoring the healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth.
When to See Your Doctor
Depending on the underlying cause of your dry throat, you may not need to see a doctor at all. Dry throat caused by environmental factors, allergies, and colds often goes away on its own.
However, if you experience chronic dry throat at night to the point that it affects your daily activities like eating or chewing, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer based in the Philippines. Her commitment to communicating factual content in when writing is unmatched. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts.