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What are Common Causes of Sore Throat in the Morning?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

A sore throat in the morning is a common problem that many people face, and in most cases it is not due to an actual illness such as a cold or the flu. Instead, it is frequently caused by one's living environment, such as dry air in the home or at work, or if one smokes. In addition, a few medical issues such as sleep apnea or acid reflux can also cause a sore throat upon waking in the morning.

Dry air in the home is, by far, the most common culprit of a sore throat in the morning. To combat this, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day, both at home or at work. Turning the heat down at night can be helpful, as well as placing a humidifier in the bedroom. Adding extra moisture to the air is one of the best ways to combat morning throat problems. Some people also find that sleeping under a running ceiling fan can have a similar effect upon waking up.

Smoking is another one of the most common causes of a persistent sore throat in the morning. The solution for this is to quit smoking, not just to prevent a sore throat but to improve overall health. Smoking can cause cancer in the throat and lungs as well. If you quit smoking and the morning sore throat does not improve relatively quickly, it is a good idea to visit a doctor.

Acid reflux, when the stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and causes heartburn, can cause a sore throat as well. This can be prevented by making changes to the diet and cutting out spicy foods, sleeping with the head elevated, and not eating for a few hours before bedtime. Medications and over-the-counter antacid products can help prevent acid reflux and a morning sore throat as well.

Sleep apnea is another common cause of a sore throat in the morning. This condition causes a person to stop breathing, or to breathe shallowly for a few moments while sleeping, and it frequently causes loud snoring. This breathing interruption and snoring is what leads to a sore throat. People suffering from sleep apnea are generally told to attempt sleeping on the side rather than on the back, to quit smoking, and to lose weight; if this does not help, more treatments from a medical professional may be necessary.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon986187 — On Jan 23, 2015

I am 14 and I wake up with a sore throat in the morning. I don't smoke or drink alcohol, obviously, but I do live in Colorado, which is super dry. I am thinking that the dryness is causing my sore throat.

By anon956892 — On Jun 17, 2014

I think that drafts ought also to be added.

By MsClean — On Jun 26, 2011

@Markus - The mucous build up of an ex-smoker is just your body's way of cleansing itself. Your lungs are clearing themselves out and as the mucous travels down the esophagus it also carries with it a lot of bacteria and stuff that are probably what are irritating your throat every day.

Hang in there though, it won't last long. You've done a great thing by quitting smoking, not only for yourself but for those who love you too.

Also don't forget to drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables so you don't become ill from all that excess mucous and bacteria. I'm sure you'll be feeling better than you have in a long time in no time. Good luck.

By Markus — On Jun 25, 2011

Since I quit smoking three months ago I no longer wake up with a terrible sore throat every morning.

My body has actually taken a three hundred and sixty degree turn to where now I wake up with this nasty thick throat mucous every day.

What's up with that? I don't feel sick or have any pain associated with it just gagging.

By wizup — On Jun 23, 2011

@Sierra02 - I don't know how old you are or how long you've been old enough to drink but let me share a little wisdom with you about alcohol.

Alcohol will dehydrate you and oftentimes this is what causes those terrible painful hangover headaches. In addition to the headaches is the dry sore throat and sometimes nausea.

If you're going to drink, even a little bit, you should always follow up with plenty of water especially just before you go to bed. Drinking lots of water is usually all it takes to ward off those hangover symptoms including a sore throat.

By Sierra02 — On Jun 21, 2011

Okay, this wasn't mentioned anywhere in the article but I was wondering if alcohol consumption is the reason why my throat is sore the next morning .

I don't drink heavy or often but it seems like my throat is always worse if I've had more than two glasses of wine the night before. Usually I wake up with a slight headache after a night of drinking, but recently I've had throat pain too with no other symptoms of an illness.

I don't smoke and I live in a humid environment. Do you think I might have a throat infection that flares up only after I've been drinking or could it just be the wine?

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