A person may experience a sore throat after drinking alcohol for several reasons, including the dehydrating effect alcohol has on the body, inflammation, or a weakened immune system from alcohol consumption.

Staying hydrated while drinking alcohol, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking are some ways to help prevent getting a sore throat after drinking.

Home remedies to help relieve an alcohol-induced sore throat include herbal teas, gargling with warm salt water, and using a humidifier.

Read on to learn more about how alcohol may cause a person to have a sore throat after drinking, what the sore throat may feel like, how to avoid a sore throat after drinking, and more.

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There are various reasons why a person may develop a sore throat after drinking.

  • Dehydration: Alcohol dehydrates the body and throat, leading to dryness and irritation. Excessive drinking may also lead to thirst, fatigue, and headache.
  • Inflammation: Consumption of alcohol also causes inflammation throughout the body, including the throat. This may lead to the throat feeling dry and scratchy.
  • Increased stomach acid: Alcohol can also increase stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn-like symptoms, including a sore throat.
  • Alcohol sensitivity: Some people also have acute alcohol sensitivity, characterized by unpleasant effects, such as flushing of the skin and sinus congestion when they drink alcohol. Sinus congestion from acute alcohol sensitivity may cause a sore throat.
  • Weakened immune system: Furthermore, heavy alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system, making the throat more susceptible to infection, such as colds or flu, which could manifest as a sore throat.

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A sore throat can manifest in various ways but typically involves discomfort or pain.

People may experience a scratchy, raw, or irritated feeling in their throat, making it uncomfortable to swallow, talk, or even breathe. They might also feel parched, with a persistent urge to clear their throat.

Learn more about a sore and itchy throat.

Treating a sore throat from drinking involves several approaches to ease discomfort and promote healing.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and clear broths, to moisten your throat and help thin any mucus.
  • Gargle with salt water: Gargling with a warm saltwater solution can help soothe the throat by reducing inflammation and providing temporary relief.
  • Suck on ice chips or lozenges: Sucking on ice chips or throat lozenges can help numb the throat and relieve soreness.
  • Use humidifiers: Running a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer in a room can add moisture to the air, which may help alleviate dryness in the throat.
  • Warm beverages: Sip on warm liquids, such as herbal teas with honey or warm water with lemon and honey.
  • Honey for cough: Honey can help relieve a cough in adults and children ages one year and older.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines: Consult your doctor or pharmacist about suitable OTC medication to help alleviate symptoms. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help reduce pain and inflammation but can also affect the liver when taken with or after drinking alcohol.

Consult a doctor if a sore throat persists, worsens, or is accompanied by a fever, difficulty breathing, or other concerning symptoms.

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Here are some tips to consider to help avoid getting a sore throat after drinking:

  • keep hydrated with water while drinking
  • limit alcohol consumption
  • avoid smoking
  • alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages
  • avoid cold beverages and opt for room-temperature drinks
  • stay warm and dress appropriately if outside
  • get adequate rest and balanced nutrition
  • avoid sharing drinks and utensils

People with alcohol sensitivity may have no options other than avoiding alcohol.

Learn more about alcohol intolerance.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about a sore throat after drinking.

Can alcohol cause laryngitis?

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, alcohol misuse can potentially contribute to laryngitis.

Laryngitis is inflammation of the voice box, often caused by infections, overuse of the voice, or irritants.

Can alcohol cause throat cancer?

Alcohol can cause cancer, including throat cancer.

The chemicals in alcoholic beverages can damage the cells in these areas and increase the likelihood of cancerous growth. Smoking while drinking also increases the risk of throat cancer.

Can alcohol burn your throat?

Some alcoholic beverages can cause a burning sensation in the throat, especially if a person consumes large amounts or in high concentrations.

High-proof alcoholic beverages or drinks with added ingredients can lead to a burning sensation as they come into contact with the sensitive tissues of the throat.

Drinking alcohol can trigger a sore throat due to its dehydrating effects and tendency to cause inflammation, leading to dryness and irritation of the throat tissues.

Alcohol can also weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to viral or bacterial infections.

There are various ways to treat a sore throat, such as drinking plenty of fluids, gargling with salt water, using lozenges or honey for relief, and consulting a healthcare professional for appropriate OTC remedies.

To avoid getting a sore throat while drinking alcohol, experts recommend limiting alcohol consumption and alternating between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to stay hydrated.