The best treatment for a dry throat depends on the underlying cause. Medications can treat causes such as seasonal allergies, while home treatments can often soothe a dry throat caused by a cold or flu.

There are many reasons why someone might develop a dry throat. Most causes are minor, but a dry throat may sometimes result from a more serious underlying condition.

This article explores the causes, medical treatments, and home remedies for dry throat.

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When a person has seasonal allergies, environmental substances cause their immune system to overreact. For a person with seasonal allergies, these allergens cause the immune system to release a chemical called histamine.

Common triggers include:

As well as a dry throat, the histamine released in an allergic reaction may cause:


Medical treatments for hayfever include the following:

Immunotherapy involves gradually increasing exposure to allergens in controlled conditions. This aims to help the immune system become tolerant of them, reducing allergy symptoms over time.

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, saline nasal irrigation may also help relieve some allergy symptoms. A person should make sure to use water that has been distilled or boiled and then cooled.

Although more research is necessary, a person can also take probiotics or the extracts of butterbur roots or leaves.

If a person falls asleep with their mouth open, they may wake up with a dry throat. This also happens if a person starts breathing through their mouth while asleep.

When the mouth is left open, air dries the saliva a person produces to keep their mouth moist. As a result, their throat and mouth may feel dry when they wake up.

Mouth breathing while asleep may be caused by nasal congestion. It can also be a sign of a more severe condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Other signs include:

It is important that a person speak with a doctor if they suspect they have sleep apnea.


If the cause is nasal congestion, a person can try:

  • nasal decongestants
  • antihistamines
  • corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • an adhesive strip that is worn over the bridge of the nose

There are many treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea, including:

  • lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a moderate BMI and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
  • breathing devices called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machines
  • oral devices, such as tongue-retaining devices to keep the tongue in place
  • exercises for the face and mouth
  • surgery

When a person is dehydrated, they may get a dry throat. Other signs of dehydration include:

Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough water


If a person is feeling dehydrated, they should drink fluids to rehydrate. Drinking more fluids will make people less fatigued, increase their urine output, and make their urine lighter in color.

A person should drink ample water during the day to stay hydrated. Alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks should be drunk in moderation, as they may lead to dehydration.

A dry throat may be a symptom of the common cold. The common cold is a term for an infection that is caused by one of several different viruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average adult will get 2 to 3 colds each year. A cold may make a person’s throat feel dry, scratchy, or sore. The underlying infection may also cause:

  • runny, stuffy nose
  • sneezing
  • a cough
  • mild fever
  • body aches

A dry, scratchy, or sore throat may also be a symptom of influenza, otherwise known as the flu. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by an influenza virus.

The flu is more severe than the common cold, and a person with the flu may need bed rest.


The following medical and home treatments may help relieve symptoms of the common cold and flu:

  • Hydrating: Drinking plenty of water, juice, or lemon water to stay hydrated.
  • Resting: Getting plenty of rest to allow the body to recover.
  • Gargling: Gargling with plain or salt water may help soothe a dry, sore throat.
  • Decongesting: Over-the-counter (OTC) intranasal drops and sprays may help reduce nasal congestion. Similarly, OTC cough and cold remedies taken orally may help relieve pain.
  • Humidifying: Breathing in humid air may help ease nasal congestion and throat pain. A person can do this by taking a shower or bath.
  • Compressing: Placing a warm compress over the forehead and nose can relieve help sinus pain and headache.

Although it typically comes in with a severe, sore throat, a dry, scratchy throat could be a symptom of mononucleosis. This disease is usually caused by an infection by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is most frequently passed on through a person’s bodily fluids, with saliva transmission being very common.

As well as a dry, scratchy, or a sore throat, the symptoms of mono include:

Mono typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks, but for some, their body may take longer to recover.


The following treatments may help relieve the symptoms of mono:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve pain
  • gargling to help soothe the throat

A dry throat may be a symptom of acid reflux. The acid in the food pipe causes a burning, dry throat, as well as:

The proper name for this condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease, abbreviated to GERD. It causes acid to come up from the stomach into the food pipe.


The following medical treatments and lifestyle may help relieve acid reflux:

  • Antacids: These help neutralize stomach acid.
  • Maintaining a moderate BMI: Additional weight can put pressure on the stomach, pushing acid back up the food pipe.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes: This reduces pressure on the stomach.
  • Eating little and often: Avoiding big meals helps reduce acid reflux.
  • Avoiding tobacco smoking: Smoking can reduce the tone of the valve that keeps acid in the stomach.
  • Avoiding spicy, fatty, high caffeine foods: These can increase acid reflux symptoms.

A dry throat may be a symptom of tonsilitis, but a severe sore throat is more common. This is inflammation of the tonsils, commonly caused by infection with a virus but can also be caused by bacteria. The tonsils are fleshy lumps at the back of the throat that help fight infections.

As well as a dry, scratchy, or sore throat, symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • swollen, red, or white patches on the tonsils
  • fever
  • hoarse voice
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • headache
  • bad breath


Treatments for tonsillitis include:

  • staying hydrated
  • resting
  • taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain
  • gargling, breathing humid air, and sucking lozenges to soothe the throat
  • antibiotic therapy for a bacterial infection

Although a sore throat is much more common, some people experience a dry throat with strep throat. This is a throat infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes.

Other symptoms of strep throat include:

  • swollen, red, or white patchy tonsils
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • rash
  • nausea and vomiting
  • body aches


A doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat strep throat as it is a bacterial infection. To relieve symptoms, the following may also help:

  • taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease pain or fever
  • gargling
  • sucking on lozenges

A person should also contact a doctor if they experience:

  • trouble swallowing
  • wheezing or shortness of breath
  • rash
  • chest pain
  • extreme fatigue
  • a fever, which is over 101ºF (38ºC)

Additionally, a doctor should give a medical evaluation if a sore throat continues for more than 1 week.

There are many causes of a dry throat. A person can treat some causes, such as dehydration or the common cold, at home.

Other causes require medical intervention, including GERD, obstructive sleep apnea, and strep throat.

A person should contact a doctor for a persistent dry throat.

Read this article in Spanish.