A dry throat can be really irritating!
It can disturb your sleep at night and even make it difficult to work during the daytime.
A dry, scratchy throat is a common problem that is usually caused by an inflammation of the pharynx, a tube that extends from the back of the nose and mouth to the esophagus that leads to the stomach.
Several factors can lead to this discomfort and pain in the throat.
In most cases, it occurs during the cold winter months when the air is dry and upper respiratory infections are spreading like wildfire. It can also be a symptom of other conditions like mononucleosis, tonsillitis, strep throat, acid reflux or GERD, flu, cold, and hay fever or allergies.
Sometimes, a dry throat is a sign of something minor, such as sleeping with your mouth open, excessive talking, smoking, dehydration or exposure to pollutants in the air.
Some of the symptoms of a dry throat include a dry or parched throat that is particularly bad in the morning, difficulty swallowing, a scratchy throat and swollen glands on the sides of the neck.
At times, these symptoms may also be accompanied with a strep infection, which also can cause a headache, body aches, fever and general fatigue.
It is imperative that you identify the reason for the dry throat before looking for a solution. In the meantime, there are many effective home remedies that you can use to ease symptoms and get rid of this irritating problem.
Note: If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, you must visit your doctor.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for a dry throat.
1. Salt Water Gargle
The simplest way to effectively deal with a dry throat is to gargle with salt water.
Salt has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that help clear any microbial infection by restricting its growth. It also helps draw out the mucus and phlegm from the throat and keep the mouth hydrated.
Also, the warm salty water is soothing on your throat.
A study published in BMC Health Services Research in 2008 found that gargling three times a day with salt water is linked to a 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections (1).
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of lukewarm water.
- Stir it well to dissolve the salt.
- Gargle with this solution for a few seconds, then spit it out.
- Repeat at regular intervals until you get relief from your dry throat.
Honey can relieve the symptoms of a dry throat, due its moisturizing and humectant properties. It also contains antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that fight against the microbes that can cause an infection and lead to a dry throat.
It also works like a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it helps draw water out of inflamed tissue and thus reduces swelling.
Honey is also good for your immunity.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey into a cup of warm water. Stir well and drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Alternatively, mix 1 tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice into a cup of lukewarm water. Sip the mixture slowly. Drink this a few times a day.
- Before going to bed, add 1 teaspoon of honey to a glass of warm milk. Drink it to soothe your dry throat and help you sleep better.
Caution: As raw honey can carry harmful bacteria that can cause infant botulism, you should never feed it to babies under age 1.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be diluted for use as a gargle or added to hot tea or a glass of water to fight an infection and alkalize the body. This simple go-to remedy helps with dry and sore throats caused by an allergy or an infection.
Due to its antibacterial properties, it helps fight microbes and alkalize the body. It also helps maintain the pH balance in the mouth, thereby keeping the mouth well-moisturized to prevent or treat a dry throat.
Plus, apple cider vinegar boosts the immune system.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of warm water. Stir well and drink it twice daily to get rid of throat dryness.
- Also, you can make a gargle solution with apple cider vinegar. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of warm water. Gargle with it several times a day.
4. Chewing Gum
Chewing a piece of sugar-free gum is a simple yet effective way to deal with a dry throat. The act of chewing stimulates the flow of saliva in your mouth and throat. Once saliva production increases, the throat becomes moist, which in turn provides relief from the dryness.
A 2011 study published in the Dental Research Journal reports that chewing gum can affect the saliva flow rate, which is important for a dry throat (2).
Chewing sugar-free gum also combats acidity, another common reason behind a dry throat.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Dental Research reports that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce acidic esophageal reflux after the meal (3).
If possible, choose an unsweetened variety of chewing gum to soothe your throat. But be sure to avoid sugary as well as mint-flavored gum.
Similarly, you can suck on ice chips, sugar-free popsicles or throat lozenges to help keep your throat adequately moist.
5. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that coats the throat, eases soreness and reduces irritation. This in turn will reduce the dryness in your throat.
It also stimulates saliva production, which is important for fighting the symptoms of a dry throat.
- Add 1 teaspoon of the inner bark of slippery elm to 2 cups of boiling water.
- Let it steep for a few minutes, then strain the solution.
- Add a little honey and drink it slowly while it is still warm.
- Have it 2 or 3 times a day.
You can also take slippery elm lozenges that you can easily find in the market.
Licorice is another remedy that helps get rid of a dry throat. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties that give relief from any infection that may be causing dryness in the throat.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also help reduce irritation in the throat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of licorice powder to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and let it steep for a few minutes. Strain the tea, and drink it 2 or 3 times daily.
- Also, mix ½ teaspoon of licorice powder with a little honey and have it twice daily for a few days.
- You can also suck on some licorice candies to soothe your throat.
7. Cayenne Pepper
For soothing a dry throat, cayenne pepper is also very effective.
Cayenne pepper contains a good amount of capsaicin, a compound rich in anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It helps reduce the swelling in your throat tissues and treats the underlying infection. In addition, it will alleviate any pain you may have.
Capsaicin also aids in flushing toxins and other infection-causing agents out of the body.
- Mix together ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder, 1 tablespoon of honey and 3 grated garlic cloves. Consume ½ teaspoon of this mixture several times a day, but allow at least 1 hour between doses. Avoid drinking water immediately after taking this mixture.
- Alternatively, add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass of hot water. Gargle with this solution several times a day. Use this remedy for 1 or 2 days.
8. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root contains mucilage that will coat and soothe a sore or dry throat. It also helps with inflammation in the throat related to tonsillitis or strep throat.
In addition, it helps deal with acid reflux, thanks to its demulcent and anti-inflammatory properties. Acid reflux is one of the reasons behind a dry throat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried marshmallow root to 1½ cups of boiling water.
- Cover and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the solution, add some honey and drink it.
- You can have 3 cups of this herbal tea a day.
Caution: Marshmallow root is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, or people who are diabetic.
Most of the time, the dryness in your throat may simply be a sign of dehydration, which means you are not drinking enough water. When dehydrated, your body doesn’t produce as much of the saliva that normally moistens your mouth and throat.
On the other hand, proper hydration gives your body the resources it needs to produce the amount of saliva required to keep your throat moist. Additionally, it thins and loosens mucus, thereby preventing it from clinging to the interior walls of your throat and causing irritation.
To fight dehydration, drink extra fluids during the day. In general, drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is fine. But depending upon your age, activity level, climatic condition and your health status, you may require less or more.
You must also include fruits and vegetables and other foods in your diet that are rich in water content. Avoid caffeinated sodas and coffee, which can cause your body to lose more water.
Proper rest and sleep is important for quick recovery from a dry throat. But because a dry throat can get worse at night and disturb your sleep, it is recommended to run an indoor humidifier.
A humidifier is especially important during cool weather. It will help add warm moisture to the air, and breathing in that humid air will help soothe and hydrate your dry throat so you can get much-needed sleep.
Place a humidifier in your bedroom or any other room where you spend a considerable amount of time.
Instead of a humidifier, you can also fill a deep pan with warm water and place it near a heat source. As the water heats up, it should gradually make the air in the room moist.
Irrespective of whether you are using a humidifier or a pan of water, keep it clean to prevent a buildup of mold and other allergens.
- Taking a hot shower and spending several minutes breathing in the steam can provide temporary relief from dry throat.
- Get enough rest by reducing your daily activities and talk as little as possible while suffering from a dry throat.
- Drink more warm fluids like warm juices, herbal teas or lukewarm water to soothe your dry and irritated throat.
- Avoid using tobacco products, as they irritate the throat tissues and can lead to prolonged periods of a dry throat.
- If you wake up every morning with a dry mouth, the problem might be that you sleep with your mouth open. In such a case, apply an adhesive strip to the bridge of your nose to keep your nose open while you sleep.
- To prevent allergy symptoms, stay indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioning on during the peak of allergy season.
- To get relief from a dry throat due to acid reflex, raise the head of your bed to help prevent acid from flowing upward into your esophagus and throat while you sleep.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke, as it will only worsen the symptoms.
- Avoid foods and drinks that can trigger heartburn, such as spicy or fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, mint and garlic.
- If suffering from strep throat, make sure you take the full dose of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
- If you have a dry throat due to bacteria causing tonsillitis, take prescribed antibiotics to treat it. Viral tonsillitis will improve on its own within 7 to 10 days.
- If your dry throat is due to mononucleosis, antibiotics won’t treat it. Get plenty of rest to give your immune system a chance to fight off the virus.
- Cost-effectiveness of gargling for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. BMC Health Services Research. https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-8-258. Published December 16, 2008.
- The effect of chewing gum’s flavor on salivary flow rate and pH. Dental Research Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3556288. Published December 2011.
- The Effect of Chewing Sugar-free Gum on Gastro-esophageal Reflux. Philosophy of the Social Sciences. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/154405910508401118.
- Slippery Elm, its Biochemistry, and use as a Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Laryngeal Irritation. Anatolian Journal of Psychiatry. http://www.scopemed.org/?mno=17581. Published January 01, 1970.