Sore throat is also known as pharyngitis and is usually caused due to viral or bacterial infection, which causes common cold. In almost 1/3 of the cases, the cause is not found. In most of the cases, people experience sore throat in the morning, which gradually decreases by day end.
When a person has sore throat, it can be accompanied with tonsillitis – swollen tonsils, difficulty in swallowing and the glands of the neck become enlarged or tender. We will look in further detail to the causes of sore throat in the morning, how you can get relief from it and when you should visit a doctor for the condition.
What Causes Sore Throat in the Morning?
A night of irritation in the throat can end up causing sore throat in the morning. Some very common reasons for throat irritation are:
- A recent mild upper respiratory tract infection. This results in the excess mucous from the nose to drip back at the back of the throat during the night. The tissue of the throat gets irritated and inflamed while drying it out. All through the day it gets moisturized and by the end of the day improves significantly.
- A cold causes your nose to be blocked and makes you breathe by mouth, especially while sleeping at night. This causes the throat to dry out.
- Another cause of sore throat in the morning is acid reflux or GERD. If a person goes to bed on a full stomach, it puts pressure on the esophageal valve and causes acid reflux and burning sensation in the throat.
What to do: If the sore throat is caused due to acid reflux, it is important to keep adequate time interval between meals and bedtime. Restrict the intake of alcohol, and products containing caffeine and smoking. You can also keep your head in an elevated position as compared to the feet, so that the reflux is avoided.
- When sore throat is caused by a bacterial or viral infection, it causes other symptoms as well. These symptoms are headache, cough, runny nose, and aching muscles, tiredness accompanied by fever of over 100.4°F.
- Environmental allergens like dust, pollen grains, molds, pet dander can cause sore throat. Tobacco smoke, chemicals, chewing tobacco, alcohol and spicy food act as irritants and cause sore throat.
Sore Throat in the Morning: How to Get Relief
In most of the cases sore throat in the morning is not serious and does not require medical help or treatment. Self-care, home remedies and painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol available over the counter can be taken to relieve the pain and soreness of the throat.
A doctor will prescribe antibiotics only when the sore throat is severe and can lead to further serious infection. In most of the cases, irrespective of the cause of the sore throat, home care and remedies give relief. Some of them are given below:
- Take lot of rest, sleep and give a break to your voice.
- It is important to keep yourself hydrated, so ensure that you drink lot of water. This will prevent dehydration and keep the throat moist.
- Foods, which are comforting and soothing, help relieving pain from sore throat. You can have warm broths, water and honey, caffeine free tea or cold foods like ice popsicles.
- Gargle couple of times in a day using saline water. To make it, dissolve a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle with this water and then spit it out.
- A humidifier can be very helpful, use a cooling humidifier so that the air in the room is moist. You can also try sitting in a steamy bathroom.
- You can suck on lozenges, which are very helpful in relieving sore throat in the morning. However, they should not be given to children below the age of 4 years, as they can be choking hazard.
- Some over the counter sprays are available which have a cooling effect similar to that of lozenges. They do not cure the sore throat, but they help in relieving the pain. These sprays may contain phenol, which has antibacterial properties and thus act as antiseptics.
- Stay away from irritants to the throat; these include cleaning products, perfumed products and cigarette smoke.
Effective Home Remedy for Sore Throat | Cough & Sore Throat Aid:
When to Worry
You should seek medical attention for sore throat in the morning in the following conditions:
- If the condition is accompanied with high fever (above 100.4°F) and does not get better with medication
- If the sore throat persists for more than a week
- It should be further investigated to ensure that the sore throat is not caused due to a condition like Epiglottitis. In this condition, there is swelling and redness of the epiglottis, and if it is not treated it can lead to breathing problems.
- Other condition, which should be ruled out, is Quinsy, in which there is abscess and pus formation in the throat wall and back of the tonsil, followed by tonsillitis.
- The doctor might ask you to take a blood test to rule out a viral infection called as glandular fever.