Sore throats can be uncomfortable, and on top of that, it can be confusing when you wake up with one every morning that dissipates after a few hours, only to reappear again the next morning. This may cause you to question what is causing your sore throat and what you can do to prevent it from occurring. The answer is not so simple; many things can cause a sore throat in the morning, including dehydration, snoring, allergies, and viral infections. Let’s talk about why these things can cause a sore throat, and what you can do to prevent it.
What Can Cause a Sore Throat When Waking Up?
There are many things that can cause a sore throat when waking up. Let’s discuss the different causes and additional symptoms of each to help you pinpoint a cause.
One of the symptoms of allergies is postnasal drip, which is when the mucus in your nose drains into the throat. Since this is not the location it is meant to be, it can be rather irritating to the throat, resulting in itching and soreness.
Postnasal drip often worsens when laying down, so it can be more problematic at night when you are laying down for an extended period of time.
Different allergens may set off this reaction, including pollen, dust, and dander. If the last two are in your mattress, this may be why your allergies are their worst at night.
In most cases, sore throats are due to a viral infection. Since viruses can cause nasal congestion and postnasal drip, which are worse at night, you can wake up with a sore throat. Of course, with a viral infection, you might have a sore throat all day, but it is often worst in the morning.
Additional symptoms of viral infections include:
- body aches
- chest discomfort
When you go to sleep at night, you go many hours without water, which can make your throat dry and scratchy. If you are dehydrated, you may feel other symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue.
Snoring is something that can be quite irritating to the throat and nose, potentially causing a sore throat in the morning.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where someone temporarily stops breathing while sleeping due to a narrowing or blockage of the airways. Its most common symptom is loud snoring. That being said, all individuals who snore do not have OSA. Additional symptoms of this condition include:
- waking multiple times during the night
- waking up unrefreshed in the morning
- chronic fatigue
- experiencing drowsiness during the day
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Those with GERD often experience acid reflux and heartburn, which worsen when laying down. When stomach acid creeps back into the esophagus, it can be very irritating to the throat, causing a sore throat in the morning.
Why Does a Sore Throat Go Away on Its Own After Waking Up?
In many cases, a sore throat that is only present when waking is due to some condition that occurred while you were sleeping. So, when you wake up, the irritant is no longer present, and the throat can heal. For example, if your sore throat is due to snoring, when you wake up you no longer snore, and your throat is no longer irritated. Drinking water also helps with the dryness and scratchiness we experience during the night.
How To Stop Waking Up with A Sore Throat
Drink More Water
Since a sore throat can develop from dehydration, you need to ensure that you are getting enough water during the day. In addition, you will want to avoid anything too salty before going to bed, as the salt can cause dehydration as well.
Another tip is to keep water by your bed at night so that if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can take a sip of water, helping to relubricate your throat and ease any scratchiness.
Adjust Your Sleeping Position
If your sore throat is due to GERD or postnasal drip, sleeping with your head elevated may help prevent these symptoms.
If you are a snorer, these strategies may help you reduce the amount you snore:
- avoid alcohol before sleeping
- avoid sleeping on your back
- reach and remain at a moderate weight
For those with OSA, a doctor can discuss alternative treatments, including medical and dental devices that help keep airways open or surgery.
Do what you can to make your bedroom as allergen-free as possible. This can include clearing clutter and dusting, keeping your home dry to prevent mold, and trying a HEPA air filter to help reduce the number of allergens in the air. You can also try taking antihistamines (allergy medicine) to help suppress your body’s overactive immune response to allergens.
When To See a Doctor
This depends on the additional symptoms you are experiencing along with your sore throat, and if you have attempted the above steps to help reduce your sore throat. If you have tried the above and are still experiencing a sore throat, it is good to check in with a doctor to determine the cause.
If you have tried to reduce snoring, but you are still experiencing it, along with the other symptoms of OSA, visit a doctor, as they will likely want to perform sleep testing to determine if you have this condition and get you started on other types of treatment.
Get Help from an Online Doctor
An online doctor is a great first step in determining the cause of your morning sore throat. When using DrHouse, the online doctor you meet with can listen to the symptoms you experience to help determine potential causes. If needed, they can prescribe an allergy medicine or refer you to a sleep specialist.
There are many potential reasons why you may wake up in the morning with a sore throat. Some possible causes include dehydration, snoring, allergies, and viral infections. If you continue to have a sore throat in the morning, even after trying to remedy these causes, it is best to check in with a doctor.
An online doctor is an excellent resource to help determine why you continue waking up with a sore throat. They can write any prescriptions you may need and refer you to specialists if they believe it is best for your specific symptoms.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Causes & Treatments. (2021). https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep/obstructive-sleep-apnea
- Sore throat at night: Causes, treatments, and remedies. (2021). https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/sore-throat-at-night
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.