Can dehydration cause sore throat? Yes, it can. Remember that feeling of a dry mouth and sore throat when you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night? Usually common in winter, this parched feeling can be quenched by a sip of water.
During winter, the air lacks moisture and thus, while sleeping, some people tend to keep their mouth open, leading to the drying up of the palette and throat, which feels like a bacterial infection or viral infection. However, throat pain accompanied by a dry mouth can be cured by drinking fluids.
1. Dehydration: How to Tell
Now, the most reasonable question is how to tell the difference between a sore throat caused by severe dehydration and a strep throat caused by acid reflux or swollen lymph nodes, or other reasons.
You will know you are dehydrated when your urine is a pale yellow. Also, if you notice tiredness or stiff joints or if you have trouble breathing, you can increase your fluid intake.
Another noticeable symptom of dehydration is the drying up of the nasal passages, a result of dry air. Especially common in young children and older adults who tend to forget to drink water. Consistent drinking of warm drinks, hot tea, or any other warm liquids helps to avoid dehydration.
On the other hand, common colds, viral infections, Medina, or bacterial infections can cause sore throats as well. Most probably, they will be accompanied by a muffled voice, a stuffy nose, fever chills, and other symptoms along with a persistent sore throat.
However, in these cases, drinking warm water, gargling with warm salt water, taking throat lozenges or any type of home treatment would not be enough to cure the symptoms. See a doctor and use certain medications prescribed by him or her to get rid of the symptoms.
2. Causes of Dehydration:
Listed below are a few of the reasons that can cause moderate dehydration to severe dehydration:
2.1 Lack of Fluids-
Sometimes, your body may lack enough fluids. For instance, if you’re sick, don’t drink enough water, sweat a lot, or simply neglect your self-care routine, it can cause dehydration.
2.2. Reduced Saliva-
When you are dehydrated, your body does not have enough water to produce saliva that keeps your mouth, throat, and thoracic cavity lubricated and healthy. This leads to a dry mouth and a sore throat.
2.3. Stuffy Nose-
You may breathe through your mouth at night, especially if you have a stuffy nose, perhaps due to blockage in your nasal passages. This can cause quick evaporation of your body fluids and result in dehydration.
The climate of your area greatly affects your fluid intake and thus, influences the hydration level of your body. A warm and humid climate allows for more moist air due to rapid evaporation. This leads to more sweating or perspiration and thus, there is more intake of fluids.
Whereas, in cold and dry climatic conditions, there is hardly any kind of perspiration as the air is devoid of moisture. This creates a diminished urge to drink water. Thus, dry mouths and sore throats are common in winter.
2.5. Certain Medical Conditions-
Certain medical conditions can cause dehydration. A dry mouth can be a result of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and stroke. Sjogren’s syndrome (SHOW-grins) is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the glands that produce moisture, especially common in women who have gone through their menopause.
2.6. Talking for a Long Time-
Talking for a long period without any fluid intake can cause dehydration, leading to a dry throat, hoarseness, and trouble swallowing. This is common for public speakers and singers. Thus, they take breaks to drink warm liquids or sip on water, once they are backstage.
2.7. Allergies and Infections-
Allergies and mild respiratory infections can lead to dehydration and sore throats like upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), usually accompanied by common cold symptoms. The immune system is weakened and it is advisable to call your doctor.
2.8. Cold Drinks-
Consumption of cold drinks, ice cream, or anything too cold can cause sore throat. It is suggested to avoid them in cold winters.
2.9. Physical Activities-
Last but not the least, strenuous physical activities like rock climbing, weight lifting, hiking, or any form of physical exercise can cause dehydration.
3. What Does It Feel Like to Have a Dehydrated Throat?
A sore throat is characterized by a rough, scratchy, or itchy feeling in the throat or simply throat pain. Drying up the mucous membranes can cause discomfort in the nasal passages while breathing. The urge to drink water becomes unusually strong. Usually, plain water instead of flavored or sweetened drinks can quench this unbearable thirst.
Cough, hoarseness, or soreness in the roof of the mouth and difficulty with speech are signs of a dehydrated throat.
Also, dry or chapped lips should not only make you reach out for your favorite lip balm but also your bottle of water.
4. When to See a Doctor or Seek Medical Treatment?
There are many treatment options for a sore throat. Most people with sore throats get better without seeking professional help. Home treatment might be inexpensive and easier but it is important to know when your symptoms are beyond self-care and self-diagnosis.
It is time to call your doctor and seek medical treatment when you see the following symptoms such as:
Severe trouble breathing
- Severe headaches
Enlarged glands in your neck or swelling of the tongue
Severe symptoms like unbearable throat pain, acid reflux, or pain due to stomach acid
Blood in the saliva
Excessive drooling, especially in children and older people.
5. Prevention is Better than Cure
Before going into the ways to prevent dehydration and thus a sore throat caused due to it, it is important to know the ways you can take precautions.
Take note of the following to prevent a dehydrated sore throat:
5.1. Drink Water Daily
Drinking water daily in a systematic way complements the need of your body.
5.1.1 Mistakes while Drinking Water
Drink plenty of water a few minutes after physical activity. Drinking water immediately can cause more loss of water as the body needs time to adjust after the adrenaline boost of physical activity.
5.2 Look at the Climatic Conditions
Adhering to the climatic conditions of your area, take note of your intake of fluids.
5.3. Wash your Hands
Wash your hands efficiently by rubbing and lathering soap for at least a minute between the palms of your hands. This will prevent infections and other diseases that can cause sore throats.
5.4. Avoid Intake of some Beverages
Avoid the intake of coffee, tea, carbonates, or flavored drinks. They act as natural diuretics, causing increased urine production, and might quench your thirst by replacing your water intake. This will lead to dehydration and thus, cause sore throats.
5.5 Increase the Water Content in your Diet
Increase the water content in your diet by consuming low-sugar juices, broths, soups, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only does your body get replenished with water but also with vitamins and important nutrients that strengthen your immune system.
5.6 Avoid Dehydrating Foods
Salty and spicy street foods contain a high concentration of sodium. That is why you feel thirsty after a wedding feast or a night out with friends. So, avoiding them will be useful.
5.7. Increase Environmental Humidity
Moist air aids in a sore throat. Dry air dehydrates your body. Slightly increasing the environmental humidity of your surroundings by steaming your room or getting a humidifier can help you to combat dry air.
6. Treatment Options for a Sore Throat
Antibiotics, though help with throat pain is not recommended for a sore throat caused by a virus. However, no medication should be taken without the prescription of a medical professional.
6.2. Oral Rinses
Oral rinses like salt-water gargles have long been used as a remedy for throat pain. The salt in the water helps to kill bacteria through osmosis. A tablespoon of common salt in a cup of warm water twice a day can relieve symptoms like sore throat caused by mild dehydration.
6.3. Honey and Lemon
Honey and lemon in warm water have been an effective remedy for home treatment for a long time. A squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of raw honey in a glass of water soothe a sore throat.
6.4. Cough Syrups
A variety of throat lozenges (cough drops) or cough syrups containing topical anesthetics are available to treat throat pain or relieve dryness in the mouth cavity. A throat lozenge may persist longer in the throat than sprays or gargles and, thus, may be more effective to relieve the symptoms.
6.5. Water or Fluid
Simply drinking water prevents dehydration and helps to maintain the hydration level in the body and also regulates body temperature. Taking a break by sipping on some water or any other fluids during long speeches or debates.
6.6. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation for 15 minutes can soothe a sore throat.
Consuming fruits with high concentrations of water like watermelons, oranges, and coconuts helps to keep the body hydrated.
7. Certain Voluntary/Involuntary Choices can Cause a Dehydrated Sore Throat
7.1. Drug Abuse, Alcoholism, Smoking, and Passive Exposure to Smoking
These factors dry up the throat and lung cavities and result in the gradual accumulation of carbon and other harmful substances in the body. These practices cause coughing, vomiting, and cancer.
7.2. Going to a Concert and Having No Water Breaks
Enhanced by the heat from the lights, the body heat of the crowd can cause breathing problems and dry mouths. Thus, individuals often come out of crowded areas with flushed and sweaty faces and they are usually thirsty.
7.3. Exposure to Fear
Individuals who are exposed to face their fears through activities like scuba diving, watching a horror film, or bungee jumping can show signs of a sore throat. Those who have stage fear and are made to speak in public or participate in a group presentation also show signs of dehydration.
They seem to be taking huge gulps of air and have difficulty speaking. Usually, the intake of fluids seem to calm them down or replenish their body after such experiences.
7.4. Constant Straining of the Voice
Constant straining of the voice can be dehydrating. This can be a result of the confrontation, conflict, or verbal aggression. This can cause a sore throat and hoarseness of the voice.
7.5. Breathing with Your Mouth Open
The habit of breathing through your mouth or snoring loudly can also cause sore throats.
8. Certain Lifestyles can Cause a Dehydrated Sore Throat
Certain groups of people are exposed to conditions due to their career or lifestyle that lead to dehydration. These people are:
Firefighters need to jump into burning buildings and inhale smoke despite their training and protection. They can be more prone to dehydration and thus, frequently need to take sips of water or any other fluid to prevent the drying up of their mouths, throats, and lungs.
8.2. Chimney Sweepers
Chimney sweepers inhale smoke, fumes, and cinder or ash as a part of their job requirements. They clean the soot from chimneys and most probably, inhale some of that. This can cause coughing and a sore throat.
8.3. People who Live Near Active Volcanoes
People who live near active volcanoes are at risk of being victims of potential volcanic eruptions. Cinder, gases, sulfur, and other particles and elements are released into the air during a volcanic eruption.
If this air is inhaled, not only will it harm the lungs but also cause severe dehydration and therefore, a sore throat and coughing.
Chefs spend most of their time in a kitchen preparing food near a stove or oven. The heat and gas from the flames and the smoke from the cooking can cause mild dehydration if occasional hydration is not done. Drinking water or sucking on an ice cube or fruit while cooking can hydrate the body and prevent sore throats or dry mouths.
Singers, pop stars, and rappers hold their breath for certain vocal notes and rap verses. The constant strain on their vocal cords and prolonged use of their voice can cause dehydration and the friction caused by their vocal cords can cause heat. this will lead to sore throat and dry mouth.
Thus, a throat lozenge or drinking fluids in between their shows can prevent a sore and dry throat.
Thus, your lifestyle impacts your present conditions and your choices influence your health.
9. Who Needs Special Care?
Children and older adults often tend to neglect their physical health. Children forget about their surroundings and are yet to develop complete self-awareness. Whereas, Elderly people become feeble-minded and lack physical coordination due to old age.
Therefore, it is completely understandable that these two categories of people need extra attention and care to ensure that they are drinking extra fluids and remaining hydrated.
It is important as responsible members of society that we protect and nurture those in need because one day, we all will face similar circumstances.
10. Jelly Drops to Increase Your Water Intake:
Jelly Drops are bright, bite-sized, sugar-free sweets containing 95 percent water and added electrolytes, that were invented by Lewis Hornby, who was inspired by his late grandmother and her love for sweets. Invented in 2020, it is an easy way to increase the daily water intake for people with dementia, who forget to dehydrate themselves. It is a fun and delicious reminder to drink water.
Supported by Alzheimer’s society, the Jelly Drops are a fantastic product to prevent dehydration and its consequences such as dry mouths, sore throats, and dizziness. Jelly Drops have been made affordable, eco-friendly, and accessible for patients and doctors. Also, the vivid color of this product makes it more attractive and delicious. After all, aesthetics add to the taste of the food.
11. Things to Keep in Mind
We have all been there where we have forgotten to drink water for a long period due to various reasons ranging from work to sickness to simple forgetfulness. So what to do in that case?
Listed below are various ways you can remind yourself to hydrate yourself and prevent a sore throat or chapped lips:
11.1. Set Alarms
Set alarms at the beginning of your day to ensure that you are reminded to drink water. Over time, your body will be trained to reach for your bottle. without the alarms.
11.2. Organize your Water Bottles
Keep separate bottles for your home and your work or school or university. This will ensure that you are taking your hydration seriously both at home and while you are at work.
11.3. Refill your Bottle
Refill your bottle immediately after you notice that the water level has gone down. Waiting for an empty bottle will only make you procrastinate from filling up your bottle again.
11.4. Switch to Fruit Juices
Switch from carbonated or flavored drinks to fruit juice when you are outside and thirsty. Fruit juice will not only quench your thirst but also enrich your body with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Also, fruit juice is easily affordable.
11.5 Carry a Water Bottle
Carry a water bottle when you go out in the summer. You can hydrate your body every time you sweat. This habit will help you save money as you do not need to keep buying cold drinks that momentarily might quench your thirst.
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