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Morning throat pain: Doctors identify possible causes

Morning throat pain: Doctors identify possible causes Why does throat pain occur in the morning (Collage RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

A sore throat can bother you in the morning even if you're not cold. It turns out that tickling, discomfort, itching, and pain when swallowing can be caused by completely different reasons.

What can cause a sore throat is told by RBC-Ukraine, according to WebMD.

Causes of sore throat

Signs and symptoms of a sore throat can vary depending on what is causing it.

Dehydration. Your body feels uncomfortable if you don't drink enough water or sweat excessively. Dehydration can also occur if you take medications that make you urinate more frequently or lose water weight.

At night, when you go for hours without water, you may wake up with dryness in your mouth and a scratchy throat, making it difficult to swallow.

Other signs of dehydration include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swollen legs
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Constipation
  • Dark-colored urine

Feeling thirsty - a sign that you are already dehydrated. The best way to treat dehydration and throat dryness is to drink plenty of water. You can also use rehydration mixes or powders that replenish electrolytes in the body.

The amount of water you need daily depends on your age, height, weight, and local weather. The standard recommendation is eight glasses of water a day, but ask your doctor what's best for you.

Snoring and sleep apnea. Everyone snores at some point in their lives. Loud, abrupt snoring occurs when the muscles of the throat relax, and air passing through the airway causes tissues around it to vibrate.

Continuous vibration of the airways through snoring is a common cause of sore throat. Snoring is also closely related to mouth breathing, which can lead to dryness and scratchiness in the throat when you wake up.

While snoring is a common phenomenon, chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea - a serious sleep disorder where breathing may start and stop several times during the night.

There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When you have OSA, the muscles of the throat relax and block the airway when you lie down. This makes it difficult to breathe. Waking up with a sore throat or dryness in the mouth is one of the characteristic signs.

Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up suddenly, gasping for air.
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling irritable or moody
  • High blood pressure
  • Night sweats
  • Low libido

If you snore too loudly or wake up with a sore throat and dryness in the mouth, inform your doctor. You may undergo sleep studies to monitor the activity of your heart, lungs, and brain, as well as undergo some tests for confirmation.

Treatment options include lifestyle changes such as weight loss, regular exercise, or quitting smoking and alcohol. If you snore a lot, try sleeping on your side - sleeping on your back will only worsen the situation. Your doctor may also prescribe allergy medications or sleep aids so you can sleep peacefully.

Allergy. If you have allergies to environmental allergens such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or dust mites, being around them can irritate your nose and airways. This can lead to itching or scratchiness in the throat. Most allergy medications (antihistamines) are available over the counter and can help alleviate irritation. If you're not sure what you're allergic to, ask your doctor.

Viral infections. Viruses that cause infections such as the common cold or flu are often a cause of sore throat.

Other symptoms of a viral infection may include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing
  • High fever
  • Hoarse or raspy voice
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting

Usually, viral infections go away within 5-7 days without treatment. Antibiotics do not work during a viral infection. If you have pain or a high fever, over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms. If your sore throat is severe and lasts for more than a week, inform your doctor.

Strep throat. Bacterial infection can also quickly cause a sore throat. The most common cause is the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes inflammation of the throat.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High fever
  • Red, swollen tonsils.
  • They may have white spots or streaks of pus.
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

If you have strep throat, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat it.

Acid reflux. This is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. The medical term for this condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other symptoms may include heartburn, hoarse voice, or throat pain that feels like a lump when you wake up in the morning.

If you have acid reflux, inform your doctor. You can also take over-the-counter medications to relieve digestive problems.

Tumors. You may experience throat pain if you have a cancerous tumor or a tumor near or in the throat, tongue, or near the vocal cords (larynx).

Other symptoms may include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Blood in saliva

If you have any of these symptoms, notify your doctor immediately. You may need to start cancer treatment.

HIV infection. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of viral infection. In the early stages, it can cause throat pain or flu-like symptoms. If you are HIV-positive, you may often experience severe throat pain. This may be associated with a fungal infection called oral thrush, which can occur due to lack of immunity.

If you suspect an HIV infection and have a sore throat, get tested immediately. HIV infection can be managed with common medications, but the sooner you find out, the better. Treatment and medications also reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to others.

When to see a doctor

If you frequently wake up with a sore throat or it lasts for more than a week or two, inform your doctor. They may perform some tests or take a throat swab to determine the cause. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor will determine a treatment plan.

If you have difficulty breathing or swallowing due to throat pain, or you feel a lump in your throat, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you have a viral or bacterial infection and a high fever, see a doctor. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and improve your well-being.

If throat pain is a symptom of sleep apnea, in addition to sleep studies, your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist to rule out any structural blocks that may cause sleep problems.

What you can do to feel better

Although severe throat pain may require medical attention, there are things you can do at home to alleviate symptoms.

For example:

Suck on ice chips or fruit popsicles to soothe your throat. You can also try lozenges or throat sprays.

Use a humidifier if the air where you sleep is dry.

Gargle with salt water to reduce throat itchiness.

Drink warm beverages and plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Use honey to ease coughs in adults. Children over 1 year old can have honey too.

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