Sore Throat at Night: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
It can be confusing when you only have problems with a sore throat at night — are you sick, or not?
Waking up in the middle of the night due to a sore throat can be frustrating. An evening sore throat may be an indication of an existing disease or medical condition. It may also be a warning sign of a more serious ailment – such as throat cancer.
Knowing the real cause of a night sore throat is essential to the treatment process. Drinking a lot of water and taking over-the-counter medications may not be enough. These measures only provide temporary relief for pain and discomfort. Treating the underlying cause of the condition will give you peace of mind and good sleep. When the symptoms signal medical urgency, consult your doctor.
This article will try to help you understand what is causing your sore throat, as well as how to treat it by seeing your doctor, trying home remedies, or using over-the-counter medication. This will also teach you how to deal with the symptoms of an evening sore throat properly. If you want to know more about this condition, read the following information.
Most Likely Causes of a Sore Throat That's Only at Night
Cold, flu, or other viruses
A sore throat is a symptom of many common viral infections. It tends to be worse at night and in the morning. If this doesn't disappear after 2 days, suspect for a cold or flu.
Varies depending on the virus, but can include: fever, runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, headaches, cough, and fatigue.
Rest and time; can treat the symptoms with over-the-counter drugs. Home remedies include: washing hands often, drinking a lot of water, taking decongestants/pain-relievers, and getting a flu vaccine.
Dry air, pollutants, or irritants like smoke or chemicals can irritate the throat. An air-conditioned room can also cause a sore throat.
Varies depending on the type of pollutant/irritant, but most common symptoms include cough, fever, and dryness of the throat.
Avoid potential irritants and use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air. Wear a mask when going outside and boost your immunity.
Allergies can cause congestion and post-nasal drip, which irritates the throat and can make it feel scratchy. Pollens, molds, and house dust are some of the more common allergens that may trigger a night sore throat. In addition, cat and dog dander can also irritate the throat.
Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, flushing, fever, difficulty of breathing (severe cases).
Avoid allergens. Wear a mask. Regularly wash your hands. Drink a lot of water. Take antihistamine drugs (if condition worsens).
Breathing through your mouth
Can be caused by chronically stuffed nose. This may also be caused by nasal polyps, a sinus infection, cold or tumor.
Chronic congestion, irritability, crying episodes at night, inflamed and/or enlarged tonsils, dry, cracked lips, poor concentration, easy fatigability, sleepiness, impaired growth (for children).
Resolve congestion problem using nasal decongestants. Take doctor-prescribed antihistamines (anti-allergy). Use steroid nasal sprays. Increase water intake. Lubricate your lips and mouth. Sleep early. Take Multivitamins.
Speaking loudly or frequently during the day can cause a sore throat at night. Too much talking can lead to hoarseness of the voice and throat inflammation.
Hoarseness of the voice, itchiness of the throat, painful eating and drinking, painful swallowing, fever.
Changing speaking habits, saltwater gargling, and practicing relaxation exercises.
GERD (acid reflux)
Chronic condition when acid flows back up into the esophagus and irritates its lining. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) tends to get worse during nighttime or at bedtime. This is because supine or flat lying position encourages reflux.
Hoarseness, burning sensation in chest, dry cough, chest pain, sour taste in mouth, difficulty eating and swallowing, a sensation of a lump in the throat, chronic cough, impaired sleeping pattern.
Over-the-counter medications and change of lifestyle habits; serious cases may need medical attention. Drink a lot of water. Drink lukewarm water at night. Avoid sour, salty, and spicy foods. Eat small, frequent meals. Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee. Take doctor-prescribed Antacid. Exercise.
Strep (unlikely to cause sore throat only at night)
Bacterial infection causing extremely sore throat. Strep throat causes moderate-severe pain that may be felt throughout the day.
Fever, white spots on the throat, loss of appetite, difficulty to swallow, exhaustion, muscle pain, episodes of nausea and vomiting, high-grade fever especially at night, loss of appetite, bad breath.
Antibiotics. Increase oral fluid intake. Gargle with salt water. Sleep early. Consult your doctor. Drink warm liquids such as tea. Take analgesics or pain-reliever. Use a cool-mist humidifier.
When to Get Help
Before taking a deeper look at each of these possible causes, it's important to know when you might need to seek medical help right away. This will help you find the best possible treatment for your sore throat and its symptoms.
When your home remedies and interventions don’t seem to work, don’t hesitate to call your physician. You should see a doctor if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, especially if you've already tried limiting exposure to potential environmental factors or changing your habits:1
- Hoarseness lasting over two weeks: Simple hoarseness can be cured by resting your voice for 2-3 days. When the hoarseness lasts for more than 2 weeks, this might be a sign of acute laryngitis. This condition is more commonly known as inflammation of the vocal cords. If left untreated, it can lead to vocal cord muscle spasm or worse, laryngeal cancer.
- Frequently recurring sore throats that don't go away with increased moisture or reduced contact with allergens or irritants: This may indicate more serious conditions/diseases such as tonsillitis and mononucleosis.
- A sore throat that is severe and lasts over one week: If your sore throat keeps coming back, your body is telling you that something’s not right. Schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.
- A lump in your neck: This might indicate a bacterial or viral infection. A lump in the neck can also be a sign of throat cancer. Visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- Blood in your saliva or phlegm: Blood in phlegm and/or saliva can be a result of forceful coughing and chronic mouth infection. This may also be an indication of a developing chest infection.
- A fever over 101° F (38° C): When your fever does not subside for more than 3 days, this may indicate an infection.
- Rash: A rash is a classic sign of an allergic reaction and inflammatory response. This is a medical emergency, and it can lead to anaphylaxis – a deadly reaction.
- Earache: An earache associated with a sore throat can be a sign of pharyngitis or laryngitis. According to many health professionals, ear pain is the worst symptom of upper respiratory tract infection.
- Joint pain: This is one of the symptoms of strep throat.
- Difficulty opening your mouth: This is an emergency! This might be a sign of peritonsillar abscess. This type of abscess is extremely painful and can cause excessive drooling.
- Difficulty swallowing: This can be a sign of mouth infection. This is also a common sign for all kinds of upper respiratory tract infection.
- Difficulty breathing: When the infection goes down the lungs and heart, this can cause difficulty of breathing. This may also lead to untimely death.
- For children, look for any signs of drooling and inability to swallow. If the child suffers from compromised breathing, go to the doctor immediately.
Cold, Flu, or Other Viruses
If you're suffering from a sore throat that only happens at night, you may simply be recovering from a mild cold, or possibly a case of the flu.Cold and flu symptoms are often worse in the morning and at night, shortly before bedtime.2
Common cold and flu can be managed at home using flu medications. Increasing your oral fluid intake will also give you extra immunity against opportunistic microorganisms. You also need to get plenty of rest and sleep to recover faster.
One possible explanation for the increase in symptoms at night has to do with the body's internal circadian rhythms and its immune function. According to Jason Tetro, a microbiology and health and hygiene expert, the immune system switches functions in the evening, leaving the body to rely on the one that's responsible for inflammation (and your symptoms), while the other one "recharges" and gets ready to fight again in the morning.3
Sore throats resulting from a viral infection should usually go away after five to seven days, though they can last up to ten.1
Since your nose might be congested if you're recovering from a cold or the flu, you may be prone to breathing through your mouth — another factor that can irritate your throat.
Here are some more details about the viral illnesses that may be giving you trouble:
According to HealthLine,4the common cold is an upper respiratory system infection that creates inflammation in the nose and throat. This is a highly infectious disease. The virus can be easily transmitted from one person to another when an infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes. The common cold is more prevalent during the rainy season. The virus thrives well in wet places and can infect the host easily. Early symptoms can be felt 1-3 days after the onset of infection. When these symptoms disappear immediately, you still need to monitor the condition. They may last 7-14 days or up to 21 days. Common cold symptoms develop slowly and are usually milder.
Aside from nose and throat inflammation, Other symptoms include:4
- Runny nose
- Stuffy ears
- Low-grade fever
- Watery eyes
- Muscle ache
- Blocked nose (severe cases)
- Fever (severe cases)
Colds typically resolve on their own within about 10 days with plenty of rest and fluids. You can treat the symptoms with home remedies or over-the-counter medications (see the section on home remedies.) If not resolved, this can trigger an asthma attack and can lead to bacterial infections.
Influenza, more commonly known as flu, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by influenza viruses that can be transmitted through the air. The flu attacks the throat, nose, and lungs (respiratory system) and usually resolves on its own. However, it can lead to complications that can be deadly when not promptly treated, especially in people with compromised immune systems.
The symptoms for the flu are similar to those of a cold, though generally much more intense. They also have a much quicker onset than the cold. When you are infected by the virus, you become more susceptible to other diseases. The first 3-4 days are considered the most contagious period of the disease. Early signs of flu are similar to that of a common cold. Infected individuals should isolate themselves from the majority to prevent the spread of disease.
Children and older individuals need to strengthen their immunity to avoid getting the disease. They are considered the high-risk (or vulnerable) population groups.
Common colds and flu have almost the same signs and symptoms. The only difference is that flu symptoms are more severe and deadly. Symptoms include:5
- Aches and pains
- Excessive sweating
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Loss of appetite
Flu symptoms usually last five to seven days and cannot be treated with antibiotics. The best course of treatment is rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications or home remedies to relieve the symptoms. A flu vaccine is recommended, especially for the elderly who have lower immunity. If left untreated, this can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, sinus infection, and heart diseases.
The Epstein-Barr virus, or EBV, is the cause of a cluster of symptoms known as mononucleosis. Mononucleosis is the “kissing disease” that you can get at any age, although it is more common in teenagers. It is spread via saliva. Though this is not considered a serious illness, but the symptoms can cause you to stay in bed for weeks. Kissing disease can happen to a person only once in his lifetime.
The Epstein-Barr virus can spread from one to another by sneezing, coughing, and sharing foods. Symptoms appear 4-6 weeks after the person becomes infected by the virus. These symptoms will stay in your body for 1-2 months (4-8 weeks). A patient is strongly advised to isolate himself to prevent the spread of disease.
Mononucleosis symptoms include:6
- Sore throat
- White patches in the throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
- Swollen tonsils
- Skin rash
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain (stomachache)
- Soft and swollen spleen
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing (severe cases)
If you're having the above symptoms, and rest and a healthy diet don't cure them within a week or two, you may have mono. You should see your doctor to have it confirmed. However, the prescription for treating it, like with other viral illnesses, is simply rest, fluids, and OTC medications.
You could experience complications with all of these viral infections, so it's important to see your doctor for symptoms that last for over 10 days or symptoms that are severe or seem to be getting worse. Symptoms such as difficulty in breathing and persistent sore throat can be life-threatening. Your doctor may also perform a throat culture to know if there’s bacterial growth or infection in your throat. Usually, a streptococcal infection (strep throat) is the most common find in a throat culture.
When you feel a sudden, sharp, and stabbing pain in your left abdomen, call the emergency hotline. This is a sign of a ruptured spleen – a very rare complication of mononucleosis. Again, there’s no specific antiviral medications or therapies for this disease. You just have to stay at home, take complete rest, and increase your fluid intake.
Environmental and Behavioral Factors (i.e. Allergens, Dry Air, and Breathing Through Your Mouth)
Dealing with a sore throat is a difficult thing to do. You have to endure the pain and discomfort this disease may bring. It can impair your body – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your everyday life may not be the same as before; you may also have to adapt to these changes.
The most common causes of a sore throat are viral infections, bacterial infections, and illnesses. If your sore throat is not caused by illness, look closely at your home or work to see if there might be environmental or behavioral factors contributing to your discomfort. Are there pets? Pollutants? Other potential allergens? Dryness? These can all contribute to a sore throat.1
Here are some of the more common environmental and behavioral factors that can cause a sore throat:
Dry air irritates the throat.7 Hot and dry indoor air – especially in closed spaces can make your throat feel rough and itchy. Drying of the throat usually happens at night and before waking up in the morning. Many people often wake up with a sore throat in the winter that is relieved by a drink of water. Water will help your throat stay hydrated and moisturized throughout the day. You can increase the amount of moisture in the air by using a humidifier. An air humidifier not just hydrates your throat, but it also helps you have a relaxed mind.
Breathing Through Your Mouth
Breathing through your mouth, usually caused by chronic nasal congestion, can also cause a sore throat. Some people breathe through their mouth due to a sinus infection, tumor, and nasal polyps. It can be solved by identifying the cause of the blocked nasal passages. When you know the real cause of the problem, it is easier for you to treat it. To avoid having to breathe through your mouth, use nasal decongestants. You can also take anti-allergy medications to prevent allergic reactions. Most importantly, you need to have enough rest and sleep to help you regain energy.
Pollutants or Other Irritants Like Smoke or Household Chemicals
Irritants in the air can cause you to have a sore throat, especially if they are present in your home environment. Air pollutants are microscopic substances that easily pass through the nasal and oral cavities. These foreign bodies can cause further damage to the respiratory organs – such as the throat and lungs. These include cigarette smoke, pollution, or household chemicals. Cigarette smoking is one of the most common causes of almost all kinds of diseases. It is also the leading cause of many respiratory diseases. A sore throat is an early sign of throat cancer. When you are exposed to different harmful chemicals, you need to observe safety precautions.
Drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods can also irritate your throat. Alcohol can damage the internal organs of the body when abused. Spicy foods can irritate the throat mucosa and the oral cavity.
Try to avoid being around smoke and stop smoking, wear a face mask outside or close your windows, and get an air purifier to remove potential irritants from your home environment. These measures will help you prevent exposure from these pollutants.
Experiment with removing different elements and see if any of them have an effect on your throat.
When you develop an allergy to a particular substance, you may have to deal with it all the time. Your throat can become swollen and itchy when it is exposed to a particular substance. Allergies can make you create more mucus, leading to post-nasal drip (which is when mucus drips down the back of your throat). Post-nasal drip is most often the cause of allergy-induced sore throat.8
A sore throat caused by allergies is often described as tickling or scratching. You may also be experiencing coughing, excessive swallowing, throat irritation, and difficulty speaking.
Other allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Hypersensitivity reaction/Allergic reaction
- Difficulty breathing
However, if you also have body aches or a fever, you likely have a virus.
Some of the most common allergens include:8
- Cigarette smoke
- Dust mites
- Mold and mildew
- Pet dander (especially from cats and dogs)
To help prevent a potential allergy attack, always wear a protective mask when going outside. Limit or avoid contact with a specific allergen that can trigger sore throat. You can get tested for allergens by an allergist, and you can also experiment with limiting or removing your exposure to these elements and see if that helps your throat. Take doctor-prescribed antihistamines (anti-allergy meds) if necessary.
Make it a habit to wash your hands regularly. Lastly, drink a lot of water.
The use of your voice during the day can cause you to have a sore throat at night. If you are yelling, talking loudly, or even just talking a lot during the day, you may be straining your voice.1
This is more common to happen in public speakers, teachers, and singers. When you overuse your voice, you may develop vocal strain.
You may find you have a sore throat especially if you have recently started talking loudly or more frequently on a regular basis.
Common symptoms may include:
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Pain in the throat when talking
- Raspy voice
- Noisy breathing
- Loss of vocal pitch
- Loss of gag reflex
- Choking or swallowing while eating or drinking
- Loss of voice (temporarily)
To treat, make sure to rest your vocal cords and drink plenty of liquids. Keep from clearing your throat frequently or whispering, as these are both irritating to the throat. Try to limit your words and avoid speaking too loudly. Drink a lot of water - especially warm water and helpful herb extracts (which will be discussed later).
GERD (Acid Reflux)
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease — it is a chronic disease that happens when stomach acid or even the contents of your stomach flows back into your esophagus, which irritates it.9
When the muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly, this can lead to reflux. Stomach contents get pushed back into the esophagus and irritate it. You will then feel a burning sensation in your chest or throat. This is called heartburn.
Acid reflux and heartburn are common conditions that most people experience at some point in their life. If it is an on-going problem, however, and you're experiencing symptoms at least twice a week, the symptoms interfere with your life, or if your doctor can see esophageal damage, then it can be diagnosed as GERD.
- Burning sensation in your chest, sometimes spreading to throat, with a sour taste in your mouth
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry cough
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
- Asthma symptoms
See a doctor if you have frequent or severe GERD symptoms or if you take OTC medications for heartburn more than twice a week.9
To help manage acid reflux and heartburn:9
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing
- Avoid food and drink that trigger heartburn, like alcohol, caffeine, fatty or fried foods, onion, garlic, mint, and tomato sauce
- Eat smaller meals
- As much as possible, do not eat before bedtime. Wait at least three hours before laying down after a meal
- Elevate the head of your bed
- Don't smoke
- Lose weight if necessary.
If not treated, it can lead to more serious problems. You may have to take medicines and undergo corrective surgery to fix the problem. Do the above-mentioned home remedies to prevent GERD.
Strep throat is a painful bacterial infection of the throat and is one of the most common causes of sore throat — typically, however, the symptoms are severe enough that you would also have them during the day.
This bacterial infection can affect people of all ages, especially children. The streptococcal infection spread from one person another through coughing and sneezing.
Strep is more common in kids ages 5 - 15 and is usually accompanied by the following symptoms:7
- Loss of appetite
- Sore, red throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Painful swallowing
- White spots on the throat and tonsils.
- Sinus infection
Consult your doctor when you experience these symptoms:
- A sore throat that lasts for more than 2 days
- A sore throat with white patches
- Red or dark spots on the tonsils
- Sore throat with pink rash on the skin
- Difficulty breathing
These symptoms usually develop within 5 days after the bacterial infection exposure. Your strep throat will need to be confirmed by a doctor with a simple strep test. This test will determine whether the sore throat is caused by strep infection or not. Remember that not all sore throats are caused by a strep infection.
Sore throats also usually heal by themselves with or without treatment.
The illness is treated with antibiotics. These meds inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections. When symptoms improve during the course of antibiotic treatment, do not stop taking the meds. This may cause relapse - which is more severe and can be deadly.
More Rare Causes of Sore Throats
Sometimes a sore throat and other flu-like symptoms appear after someone has been infected with HIV. An HIV-positive person might also have a chronic sore throat due to other infections that are more likely to cause problems in people with compromised immune systems.1
Cytomegalovirus infection and oral thrush are examples of these secondary infections. These can compromise the immune system of the person with HIV. The most common manifestation of a weakened immune system is a sore throat.
If you are sexually active, you should be tested regularly for STDs. You should also avoid having oral sex and using sex toys.
Cancerous tumors of the throat, larynx, or tongue can sometimes be the cause of a sore throat. The main cause of these tumors is the chronic use of alcohol and tobacco. A sore throat and difficulty swallowing are the most common symptoms of a tumor. Other signs or symptoms may include:1
- Difficulty swallowing
- Noisy breathing
- A lump in the neck
- Blood in the saliva or phlegm
- Pain radiating to the ear
- Sudden weight loss
See your doctor if you've been experiencing these symptoms. Go to an ENT specialist when you experience such a problem. This is situation that needs immediate attention.
Regardless of the cause of your sore throat, there are some things you can do at home that can help you feel better. These are cheaper and more practical measures that you can use to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. Pain and itchiness are the most irritating symptoms of a sore throat. If you want to learn how to manage the different symptoms of a sore throat, do the following:
Drink a Warm Beverage
Drinking herbal tea can help soothe an irritated throat. If you like, you can add honey to it as honey has been shown to have other beneficial healing properties. The warmth of the drink helps relax the muscles and the honey coats the throat, alleviating the pain. Drinking liquid also helps with dehydration.10
It is important to keep your body hydrated to prevent dehydration and dryness of the oral cavity. Avoid drinking coffee and hot chocolate. This may just worsen the condition.
Gargle With Warm Saltwater
A gargle of saltwater can help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort. Mix a teaspoon (5 g) of salt in a cup (240 mL) of warm water and gargle roughly every three hours. Make sure the water is warm, not hot.10
The mixture will not just soothe the irritation, it will also help clean the developing wound in the throat. The antiseptic property of the saltwater solution will effectively limit the bacterial growth/spread inside your mouth. Hot saltwater helps break down mucus in the throat. Do the gargling 2-3 times a day or as frequent as possible.
Studies show that honey is an effective wound healer. It also speeds up the healing process for any kind of infection. Honey can suppress the cough reflex (especially during nighttime) more effectively than cough suppressants. It also helps prevents the spread of bacteria in the systemic circulation.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains a strong antibacterial property. The acidic property of this vinegar stops the spread of bacteria immediately. This also helps breaks down mucus in the throat. If you have a sore throat especially during nighttime, make an apple cider vinegar mixture. To do this, dilute 1-2 teaspoons of the vinegar into a cup of water. Stir the mixture well and use immediately. You can use the mixture as a gargling solution. Take small sips of the mixture every 2 hours. Drink a lot of water in between the gargling sessions. This can be painful to the oral cavity.
If the soreness only happens occasionally, over-the-counter medicine might help do the trick. Purchase some lozenges and use them as instructed in the label. They are considered a safe and effective way to numb the pain.
Your throat will benefit from the soothing effect of the lozenges due to increased production of saliva.
Taking lozenges helps reduce the dryness of the mouth by stimulating the salivary gland. They also coat the throat and ease the cough reflex. Lozenges fall into these two categories:
- Synthetic Pharmaceuticals - They come in many forms - local anesthetics, NSAID painkillers, antibacterials, antitussives.
- Naturally-derived - They contain the following ingredients: eucalyptus, menthol, lemon, and honey.
Do not let young children try this remedy though, as it poses a risk of choking. Also, take note that lozenges may not possess a desirable taste.
Using an over-the-counter decongestant can help reduce the amount of mucus you're experiencing (if you're recovering from a viral condition), and help alleviate the postnasal drip. This will help your throat feel better. Decongestants work by reducing the swelling and pressure in the passageways of the nose. They also help improve the flow of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide to facilitate good respiration. Decongestants come in pills or nasal sprays. Always ask for your doctor’s advice before using decongestants.
Do not use the decongestant PPA (Phenylpropanolamine) to treat a cold and stuffy nose. It was banned in 2000 by the FDA because of its potential danger towards human health. Studies found out that PPA can cause strokes, especially in women. Your doctor may instruct you to take decongestant during the day. This is because if you take it at nighttime, you will stay awake the whole night. Other side effects include headaches, dizziness, and dry mouth. Using decongestant pills and nasal spray can also elevate blood pressure. This increases the chances of getting heart diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.
If your sore throat is the result of dry conditions, you should try using a humidifier. If you don't have access to one, try sitting in a steamy bathroom. You can also pour boiling water into a bowl and lean over it, draping a towel over your head to create a steam chamber. This will help clear up the passageways and moisten your throat, alleviating pain. This will also help soothe your mind and improve your cognition.
Adequate humidity helps prevent dry skin, eyes and nasal cavity. Moist air loosens the mucus that causes irritation and congestion. Most humidifiers are safe to use and are FDA approved. You just have to keep your humidifier clean at all times to maintain the quality of indoor air.
Buying a humidifier is a one-time investment. If you live in drier climates, consider buying one.
Ice Cream, Popsicles, or Ice Cubes
Sucking on something cold can reduce the inflammation and irritation associated with a sore throat. Cold foods can cause constriction of the blood vessels; they also prevent swelling and itchiness. Just be careful when taking cold foods and drinks when you have a sore throat. This may trigger more serious respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
When you have a sore throat, you tend to lose your appetite. A liquid or soft diet can sustain your body with the essential nutrients to remain healthy. Try drinking hot chicken soup to make eating and swallowing with a sore throat less difficult. This will help keep you from being dehydrated, and the warm liquid will also help heal your throat. If you are allergic to chicken meat, you may substitute other kinds of meat such as beef or pork.
A sore throat can make eating and swallowing difficult. Aside from gargling with salt to soothe a sore throat, you can also gargle with salt water mixed with baking soda. This mixture will prevent the growth of fungi and yeast as well as kill bacteria you may be harboring in your throat. Try mixing warm water (1 cup), baking soda (1/4 teaspoon), and salt (1/8 teaspoon) and swish gently in your mouth. Do not swallow the mixture - it can cause acid buildup in the stomach. Repeat the process as needed every three hours.10
Acetaminophen and other OTC pain medications are a good source of relief from a sore throat at night. But keep in mind that giving aspirin to children should be avoided. Pain and itchiness are the most common symptoms of a sore throat. Here are some of the OTC medications that can help relieve the symptoms of a sore throat:
- Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen - pain medications. If you have liver problems or if you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin, talk to your doctor. This is to ensure safety and avoid further complications.
- Cough suppressants - such as Robitussin. They can be used by children 6 years old and above and adults. They eliminate or reduce the throat irritation; they also help delay cough reflex.
- Antihistamines - such as Benadryl or Claritin. These medications prevent an allergic reaction and reduce the mucus production during an allergy attack.
- Antacids - such as Zantac and Pepcid. Antacids inhibit the acid production and neutralize the pH level in the stomach. These meds are best for throat pain caused by acid reflux.
- Chloraseptic - an anesthetic throat spray. It can be used by both children and adult. Use this for severe pain and itchiness only. Do not use the spray for more than 2 days.
You may also try alternative medicine — usually in the form of sprays, teas, and lozenges — to treat your sore throat. Just keep in mind that you shouldn't just depend on these alternative treatments alone, especially since evidence about what is effective is limited.
In the US, herbal remedies also don't have to adhere to FDA standards, which means the contents of the bottle might vary significantly from the packaging. You should consult your doctor before taking herbal remedies if you are pregnant or taking any other medications. Carefully choose the right herbal medicines that will work best for you. If you are in doubt of the packaging or preparation, you can make your own mixture.
Below are some of the many forms of alternative medicine that are believed to help treat the symptoms of a sore throat:
Slippery elm is a tree native to North America. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is believed to possess medicinal properties. Slippery elm has long been used to treat sore throats because of the mucus-like substance it contains. It can also treat other kinds of diseases - such as colic, hemorrhoids, and other diseases. When you mix it with water, it creates a slick gel that you can use to coat and soothe your throat. Try pouring boiling water over powdered slippery elm bark and stir well before drinking. Slippery elm lozenges are also available to help relieve a sore throat.10 The lozenges can prolong the analgesic (pain-killing) effect of slippery elm.
Goldenseal is an herb native to the eastern part of North America. Its rhizome and dried roots are the most important part of the plant. Goldenseal possesses strong antimicrobial properties that can help treat different kinds of diseases. It also has a mild-immune stimulating effect. Goldenseal can be used a mouthwash to help treat a sore throat. It soothes the irritated mucous membranes in the throat and lessens the pain and discomfort. Try making a goldenseal gargle by mixing 1 ½ teaspoons of goldenseal tincture with eight ounces of water. It may soothe the inflamed tissue in your throat while fighting bacteria.11
Echinacea is a flowering plant that thrives in the different parts of US and Canada. All parts of this plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, and supplements. Echinacea has also been long been used as a sore throat pain reliever. This also possesses a strong antibacterial property. Studies show that Echinacea extract can help increase the number of white blood cells that fight infection. This is also effective in treating persistent cough, cold, and sore throat. Simply add echinacea tincture (two teaspoons) to a cup of water. Gargle the mixture three times a day to ease throat pain.12
Licorice is an herb that possesses a naturally sweet taste. It is one of the primary ingredients in making throat drops, herbal teas, and lozenges. Licorice root is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that enable it to decrease swelling and irritation as well as soothe the throat’s mucous membranes.
You can brew your own licorice root tea by placing the following in a mixing bowl:
- One cup of dry licorice root (chopped)
- Two tablespoons of cloves (whole)
- One-half cup of cinnamon chips or a few cinnamon sticks
- One-half cup of chamomile flowers
Make sure everything is blended, then take three tablespoons of this mixture and mix with 2 ½ cups of water (cold). Heat on medium and allow to boil before reducing heat to low. Let simmer for about ten minutes before straining into a mug.10
When taken in large amounts, it can lead to water and salt retention, as well as high blood pressure. Licorice root should not be taken by pregnant mother and people with high blood BP.
Marshmallow root is an herb that grows in Western Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. It possesses a strong antimicrobial property that can help treat different kinds of infection. The marshmallow root is similar to the slippery elm since it also contains a mucus-like substance that can coat and soothe your sore throat. You can make marshmallow root tea by adding dried marshmallow root to boiling water. Sip this mixture twice or three times a day to relieve throat pain.10
Lozenges containing marshmallow root extract can treat dry cough and cold.
Peppermint is an herb that possesses strong antimicrobial effects. Aside from giving you fresh breath, peppermint is also effective in relieving sore throat. The menthol it contains has the ability to thin mucus as well as calm coughs and sore throats. Peppermint has also been found to help heal with its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.10
You can make a peppermint oil extract using all parts of the plant. Peppermint essential oil can be used as a massage oil, a humidifier, or oil spray.
Fenugreek is an herb that has many health benefits. All parts of the herb can be used to treat different kinds of illnesses and their symptoms. Fenugreek tea is believed to soothe throat irritation and inflammation. This herb possesses antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Pregnant women should avoid taking this herb.
Sage is an herb native to Europe that has long been used as an alternative medicine. This plant possesses a strong anti-inflammatory property that can reduce swelling and inflammation. Sage tea can ease a sore throat effectively when used often. To make sage tea, soak 1 tablespoon of fresh sage leaves to 1 cup of boiling water. You can also use 1 teaspoon of dried sage. Cover it for 15-20 minutes then strain. You can also add lemon or honey for a more desirable taste. You can do this 2-3 times a day for best results.
A recent study shows that a Echinacea and sage spray can help improve sore throat symptoms such as swelling. However, you need to be mindful of its side effects –throat dryness and burning sensation. Pregnant women should avoid taking a sage tea since it can cause birth defects to the developing fetus.
Ideally you could keep from getting a sore throat in the first place! The best method for prevention, of course, depends on what's causing your pain.
The following tips will help you avoid infections and reduce and remove allergens and irritants.
- Make sure to thoroughly and frequently wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after coughing or sneezing.
- It is best to avoid sharing your food, utensils, and drinking glasses.
- Throw away a tissue after coughing or sneezing into it. You can also sneeze or cough into your elbow to prevent spreading the infection.
- Keep yourself from breathing dry air by using a humidifier.
- Clean your TV remotes, telephones, and computer keyboards with a cleanser/sanitizer. Do the same with your hotel room's phones and remotes when traveling.
- Avoid bringing cleaning products, cigarette smoke, and other throat irritants into your home.
- Boost your immunity by taking Multivitamins. A compromised immune system makes you more vulnerable to different kinds of diseases.
- Wear a mask when going to medical facilities and crowded places. Bacteria and viruses can travel through the air and infect an immunocompromised host.
- Regularly consult your doctor about your health status. Ask that they perform different laboratory tests to know if you have a weakened immune system. This will also let you know any signs of bacterial, viral, or fungal infection in your body.
- Eat fruits and vegetables – especially citrus fruits. These are good sources of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) that boosts immunity.
- Avoid close contact with sick people – especially those with infectious diseases. Highly contagious diseases such as colds and flu can cause throat irritation.
- Sleep early, exercise daily and find time to relax. These will keep you fit and healthy all the time.
- Regularly brush your teeth, use mouthwash, and use dental floss. Schedule a visit to your dentist. A tooth infection can also cause a sore throat.
- Take a break and rest. Problems can be physically and mentally exhausting. A relaxed mind and body can easily propel opportunistic microorganisms and pathogens.
Managing Allergies and Exposure to Allergens
This article won't go into detail regarding the various methods of managing your allergies, which can include lifestyle and behavioral changes as well as medications.
That said, here are some basic tips for managing mold, dust, and pollen allergies. You should talk to your doctor to learn more.
- Try keeping your pet out of a family member's bedroom if he or she suffers from asthma or other allergies. Never allow the pet to rest on upholstery or other furniture as well as carpets. Make sure to frequently clean the house to prevent dust from accumulating. Wash your pet 1-2 times a week to remove dirt and dust in their furs. A regular grooming will also keep them tidy and clean all the time. Increase their shelter’s ventilation to prevent drying and falling of the hair.
- If you are sensitive to pollen and mold, make sure to protect yourself with a mask whenever you are doing yard work or have increased exposure to the outdoors.13
- Take your allergy medications beforehand if you know you will be exposed to allergens. Once you get home, rinse your nose using a saline solution and take a shower.13
- For mold, make sure any leaks and spills in the home are quickly cleaned up. This will help in preventing any mold spores from growing. You might also consider opening windows or using exhaust fans to bring down the moisture and humidity levels in your bathrooms as well as other rooms in the house. Clean your refrigerator drip pans and garbage cans on a regular basis. Make sure that your home's foundation is protected from flowing drainage and clear your gutters regularly.
- Manage your dust allergy by removing or regularly cleaning your bedroom's carpets. Cover your pillows and mattresses with cases that are made of “mite-proof” materials. Make sure to use hot water and wash your bed linens frequently. Remember to have a media filter (high-efficiency) installed in your air conditioning unit and furnace. Clean upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, and curtains regularly. Avoid dry dusting - use a damp, clean cloth when wiping surfaces.
- For a pollen allergy, you can line the edge of your nostrils with an allergen barrier gel or balm. You might also give petroleum jelly a try. This will help catch pollen particles before entering your nasal passages.13
- When driving, close your car windows and make sure to set the car's air intake on the re-circulate mode. Also, make sure your car has an efficient pollen filter or air filter installed in it.13
- Avoid allergens or irritants in general.
- Know the things that you need to do during an allergic reaction attack. Remember, an anaphylactic reaction can ne life-threatening. Equip yourself with the basic knowledge of allergy attack and its complications.
A night sore throat is a condition that requires thorough knowledge and proper attention. You have to know its probable causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment. Sometimes, a simple sore throat can lead to more serious diseases and infection. It can also cause you to be confined in bed for weeks to regain strength.
A sore throat can be an alarming sign that you may have to seek proper medical attention. Immediately consult your doctor about your condition. This will help you know and understand the symptoms you’re currently experiencing. Self-medication is not encouraged; you have to undergo laboratory examinations to know the real cause of the disease. When your doctor already confirmed the diagnosis, follow the treatment procedures properly.
If you wish to use home remedies as an alternative, use this article as your guide. Remember that a sore throat is not a simple disease; it can be a complicated condition. If left untreated, it can cause more serious and life-threatening illnesses.
I hope this article helped you understand more about what was causing your sore throat. I wish you the best of luck!
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Sore Throat: Symptoms and Causes." April 27, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/dxc-20201942. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Smith, Andrew, and David Tyrrell, Kieran Coyle, Peter Higgins, and John Willman. "Diurnal Variations in the Symptoms of Colds and Influenza." December 1, 1987. The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07420528809067786". Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Tetro, Jason. "Why Colds and the Flu Feel Worse at Night." January 23, 2017. Huff Post: Canada Living http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jason-tetro/colds-flu-worse-at-night_b_14303482.html. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Story, Colleen. Medically reviewed by Elaine Luo, MD. "Will This Cold Go Away on Its Own?" March 16, 2017. http://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/go-away. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Godman, Heidi. "How Long Does the Flu Last?" December, 2016. Harvard Health Publications http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-long-does-the-flu-last. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Mononucleosis: Symptoms and Causes." December 11, 2015. Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mononucleosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20165844. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Medically reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian. "Is Your Sore Throat a Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?" February 25, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/sore-throat-cold-strep-throat-tonsillitis#1. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Faris, Stephanie and Kristeen Cherney. Medically Reviewed by Steve Kim, MD. "Allergies and Sore Throat: Treating the Cause." May 5, 2015. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/sore-throat#overview1. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "GERD." July 31, 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/basics/definition/con-20025201. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Story, Colleen M., and Ana Gotter. Medically Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT. "12 Natural Remedies for Sore Throat." March 29, 2017. http://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/sore-throat-natural-remedies#overview1. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Reviewed by Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD. "Goldenseal." March 25, 2015. University of Medicine Maryland Medical Reference Guide. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Reviewed by Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD. "Echinea." February 2, 2016. University of Medicine Maryland Medical Reference Guide. Accessed June 7, 2017.
- Morris, Adrian, MD. "Hay Fever and Allergic Rhinitis." November 2016. Surrey Allergy Clinic https://www.allergy-clinic.co.uk/allergies/airway-allergy/hayfever/. Accessed June 7, 2017.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.