Dry Throat What Hides This Symptom and How to Stop It?

Itching, irritation, tingling, difficulty swallowing, pain, feeling of “dust” in the back of the throat, or altered taste, dry throat is an unpleasant symptom that can interfere with swallowing or lead to oral problems. Dental. Often a benign disorder, however, it can be a more important pathology when it lasts. 

Here are solutions to remedy this and guidelines for when to consult.

Discomfort or irritation, it is common to observe a dryness in the mouth and throat, especially at night. The feeling of thirst, discomfort in the throat, lack of saliva, tongue sticking to the palate, tingling, and pasty mouth, the symptoms are quite recognizable and often of viral or bacterial origin. 

However, other causes can explain this irritation: allergy, pollution, tobacco, acid reflux of gastric fluid, as well as certain pathologies or drug treatments. Here is an overview.

Dry throat: what is it exactly?

The feeling of a dry throat is a fairly common and frequent pain felt at the back of the throat, in the pharynx, and tonsils. It comes from an insufficient or even non-existent salivary secretion (when this lack of saliva concerns the mouth in general, we speak of xerostomia); and may be transient or prolonged depending on its cause. 

” It is aptly named because we observe a feeling of dryness in the throat: it seems a little “cardboard,”” describes Dr. Laure Martinat, doctor, an expert in phyto-aromatherapy, micro nutrition, and author of the book ” Immunity, infectious diseases, and Convalescence: strengthening your health naturally, “published by Quintessence. Sometimes this is associated with a scratchy or itchy throat and spontaneous pain and/or pain associated with swallowing (dysphagia or difficulty swallowing)”. 

Burning sensation or mouth irritation and severe thirst may also prolong this symptom in some cases. When saliva is lacking, swallowing food can be hampered, just as the taste perception can be modified and dental appliances can be difficult to tolerate. The breath can finally suffer from this dryness.

Sometimes, the dry throat is complicated by other symptoms: sore throat, fever, chills, runny nose, difficulty swallowing, red throat, glands in the neck, hoarse voice, cough… All these signs help guide the diagnosis. Finally, a dry mouth that becomes recurrent, going so far as to cause nocturnal awakenings, is a typical sign that should not be overlooked.

What are the possible causes of this symptom?

The feeling of a dry throat has many and varied origins. Still, the symptoms are generally explained by an inflammation of an area called the pharynx.

Breathing from the mouth and not from the nose dries out the throat: this can occur in the event of an ENT infection, for example, nasopharyngitis (the dry throat is then accompanied by a feeling of a stuffy nose), angina, acute bronchitis; or in case of snoring or even sleep apnea.

Anxiety disorders and stress, especially chronic ones, are often associated with a feeling of a dry throat.

People who have been treated with radiotherapy, for example, for throat cancer, frequently have, among the various sequelae, a feeling of dry throat and mouth.

Certain medications, in particular antidepressants, anxiolytics, analgesics (morphine, tramadol, etc.), and antiparkinsonian treatments include, among their side effects, a decrease in salivary secretions and a feeling of dry throat and mouth.

Atmospheric pollution, dry ambient air (overheated, unventilated rooms), vapors from chemical substances (paints, glues, etc.), and allergies can also be a possible explanations.

Finally, lack of hydration, excess coffee, sodas, alcohol consumed chronically, a problem of oral hygiene, a fungus (oral mycosis), and, above all, tobacco greatly increase this phenomenon.

Why do we mainly feel this discomfort at night?

This symptom tends to intensify at night for two reasons: firstly, because lying down promotes the reflux of acid reflux, but also for a mechanical reason (when snoring or breathing through the mouth and not through the nose, the air dries the pharyngeal and oral mucous membranes).

When to consult?

“It all depends on the underlying cause: if it’s a trivial nasopharyngitis, you can wait 48 hours before going to your doctor. On the other hand, if the symptoms persist beyond two or three days, it is advisable to consult his general practitioner in first intention”, advises Dr. Laure Martinat. Obviously, in serious signs (high fever, very intense pain, inability to swallow, etc.), it is better to consult urgently to benefit from a rapid diagnosis.

What are the possible treatments for this dryness, depending on the causes?

“Dry throat is not, in itself, synonymous with disease. It is a characteristic symptom that must be placed in a more global context. The treatment, therefore, differs, depending on the cause at the origin of this symptom”, specifies the specialist.

In the case of nasopharyngitis: Oral spray, tablets, or nose washes are often offered by the general practitioner to soothe the symptoms felt (for example, certain lozenges contain a local anesthetic which reduces the feeling of dry throat, and sucking a lozenge increases salivary secretions, which helps to reduce this disorder);

In the event of snoring or sleep apnea: It is necessary to consult a pulmonologist and an ENT doctor to carry out an assessment and benefit from an appropriate treatment (gutter, mask, continuous positive pressure breathing apparatus, etc.);

Radiotherapy sequelae: Unfortunately, there are few solutions in this case. The solutions are most often symptomatic (medicated salivary substitutes, which ensure artificial lubrication of the mouth and throat), and the need for good daily hydration is emphasized;

Medication side effects: The discussion must be initiated with your doctor about the possibility of changing treatment with more tolerable side effects;

Anxiety and stress: Adoption of measures to deal better with anxiety disorders (psychotherapy, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, sophrology, relaxation sessions, etc.);

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): Establishment of reflux treatment (PPI, gastric dressings, etc.), lifestyle and dietary measures (no alcohol in the evening, favor vegetables and good sources of omega fatty acids 3, avoid sodas, dinner 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, etc.), weight loss…

Alcohol, tobacco, stimulants: Drastic reduction, even cessation of consumption;

Oral problem: Adoption of impeccable oral hygiene and regular visits to a dentist for scaling;

Allergies: Introduction of appropriate treatment and advice from the doctor to limit exposure to allergens;

Oral fungus:

  • Antifungal treatment
  • Sodium bicarbonate mouthwash
  • Elimination of contributing factors
  • Appropriate choice of toothpaste
  • Implementation of oral hygiene measures

Also, be sure to:

  • Drink enough water during the day (1.5L or even 2L per day).
  • Do not overheat your home.
  • Ventilate your interior rooms regularly and install an air humidifier if necessary if the air is too dry: this will limit the feeling of a dry throat and pasty mouth on waking.

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