Why is a sore throat worse in the morning?

Why is a sore throat worse in the morning?

A sore throat can range from very painful to just annoying, and they come in all sorts of forms, including dry, scratchy and raw. But you may have noticed that the pain feels worse in the morning yet by mid-morning, it’s disappeared again. You might even wake up with a sore throat despite not having a cold or other similar illness[1]. So what is the cause of this pain and why is my sore throat worse in the morning?

Why do I wake up with a sore throat?

  • A dry mouth

The most common cause of a sore throat worse in the morning is dehydration. While you sleep, your body isn’t able to take in any fluids until you have a glass of water or a hot drink the following morning. This can result in a dry mouth and therefore a sore throat. A dry mouth can also be caused by mouth breathing. Some people sleep with their mouth open and breathe that way instead of through the nose. This can seriously dry out the mouth and throat, which could explain why you wake up with throat pain in the morning. You may also find that you have a hoarse voice, bad breath and even circles under your eyes[1].

  • Allergies

Allergies are relatively common and people can be allergic to all sorts of things, including pet hair, dust, pollen and certain plants. These allergies can affect people in different ways. Some people might experience itchy eyes and a runny nose, while others may sneeze or cough a lot. The allergies that are most likely to give you a sore throat worse in the morning are the ones associated with things you breathe in, like dust and pollen. These things can inflame your sinuses, causing the throat pain.

If you think that you may be allergic to something, you should try and make a note of what you’ve recently come into contact with when your symptoms start up. This way, you should be able to pinpoint a particular trigger and potentially avoid it in the future[2].

  • Acid reflux

Acid reflux, also more commonly known as heartburn, is when the acid in your stomach is able to come up your oesophagus. This is the reason for the painful burning sensation you may feel in your chest, hence the name ‘heartburn’. Acid reflux can be a common cause of a sore throat. This is particularly the case in the morning because, when you lie down at night, your stomach acid can more easily come up and into your throat. Other symptoms of this condition include a sour taste in your mouth, burning in your upper stomach area and trouble swallowing. If this problem is left and continues to occur, the acid from your stomach can damage your oesophagus and even the lining of your throat[3].

How to prevent a sore throat in the morning

Treating the sore throat and preventing it from hurting in the morning will depend on the cause. To prevent your mouth from drying out, you should ensure that you drink a glass of water before you go to bed and maybe even keep some on a bedside table should you need some in the night. You may also want to suck a throat lozenge or a sweet before you go to sleep. This will help to increase your saliva production and could keep your throat more moist throughout the night.

If your mouth is dry because of sleeping with it open, you should speak to a doctor. They may be able to advise why you do this, for example a nasal obstruction could prevent you from breathing through your nose, and solve the issue[1].

If you think that you may have acid reflux, you can purchase antacids over the counter that may reduce your symptoms or even solve the problem altogether. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to follow them[3].

For a sore throat that’s caused by allergies, you should try to determine what allergy you have so that you can avoid the substance altogether. This may help you to get a better night’s sleep[2].


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-throat/

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heartburn-and-acid-reflux/