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What are Common Causes of Sore Throat at Night?

By Amanda Piontek
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A sore throat is a common occurrence that often worsens at night and improves during the daylight hours. Pain in the throat can be the result of breathing with an open mouth while sleeping, acid reflux disease, viruses, and other infectious illnesses. Treatment for a sore throat at night varies depending on the cause. Common treatments for a viral or bacterial illness include antibiotics or painkillers, and a cool mist humidifier can help with dry interior air. Prescription medications and raising the head of the bed are ways to prevent acid reflux from causing a sore throat at night.

Many sore throats are caused by infection with a bacteria or virus. Like other symptoms of illness, pain in the throat can feel worse during the night when a person is trying to sleep. A few common infections with symptoms of sore throat include strep throat, Coxsackie, and mononucleosis. Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a severe sore throat and fever. Coxsackie and mononucleosis are viral illnesses with many of the same symptoms.

A person who suspects his sore throat is due to viral or bacterial illness should contact a health care provider to discuss a treatment plan. Bacterial infections like strep throat can be successfully treated using antibiotics, and an untreated strep infection might lead to complications like scarlet fever and rheumatic fever. A virus will not respond to antibiotic therapy, but a painful throat can often improve with home treatments like gargling salt water or using sore throat lozenges.

The throat is a moist environment, and breathing through an open mouth can dry out the delicate mucous membranes. This is especially true in the winter, when the house is closed up and the inside air is dry and irritating. An individual suffering from a sore throat at night due to dry air and mouth breathing can take steps to change the environment and mend the ailing throat. Running a humidifier at night, drinking lots of fluids, and soothing the throat with tea and other warm liquids can improve or eliminate the discomfort of a scratchy, painful sore throat at night.

Another medical condition that can result in a sore throat at night is acid reflux disease. Acid reflux occurs when the digestive juices in the stomach spill into the esophagus. In some cases, the stomach acid can travel up the esophagus and into the throat—resulting in a condition called laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD). Treatments for LPRD include prescription medications, dietary changes, and elevating the head of the bed at night, all steps that work to control the amount stomach acid and reduce the quantity flowing into the esophagus and throat. A person suffering from LPRD should consult a health care professional to determine an appropriate and effective treatment plan.

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Discussion Comments
By anon929977 — On Feb 03, 2014

My throat is sore every single day. I'm using strepsils, but it comes back after an hour, and when I wake up, it's even worse. I have to drink tea to get rid of it, but then it's back by the evening.

By anon319813 — On Feb 14, 2013

My wife and I both have sore throats only at night. It starts getting sore as soon as we get home way before we sleep. What could be the problem?

By Windchime — On Apr 23, 2011

My aunt had a sore throat at night only for several years. Finally she saw a doctor and tests showed that it was connected to her snoring. Evidently people naturally fall asleep with their mouth open, and this can make your throat sore.

Now she uses some kind of anti-snoring aid and has cured the sore throat problem!

By CaithnessCC — On Apr 20, 2011

@Valencia - It could be your dog, especially if it is the type that sheds a lot of fur. But as a life long allergy sufferer I am more likly to have problems with air pollution than animals.

I'm not sure what sore throat remedies you have tried, but why not give hot tea with honey a go? It coats your throat and really helps to soothe it.

By Valencia — On Apr 19, 2011

I have had a dry sore throat on and off for a few weeks. The daytime is not so bad but I pretty much always have a dry throat at night. Could my sore throat be about allergies? My dog has been sleeping in my room for the last few months but I have no reaction to him any other time.

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