Dry throat is a very common medical condition, often characterized by a dry, scratchy and sometimes sore feeling in and around the throat, that gets aggravated while speaking or swallowing food. A dry throat is also known as a sore throat (pharyngitis) and is usually experienced during the winter and summer - if the weather is too dry. Spicy, salty and oily food should be avoided while suffering from dry throat problem.
It can be easily treated with home remedies like drinking warm water, salt water gargling, sipping on hot tea, having honey mixed with ginger drops, and over-the-counter medication. If the dry throat persists for more than 2 or 3 days, one should consult a doctor as it can lead to cough or fever. Given below are some of the causes of throat dryness.
Causes of a Dry Throat
Alcohol absorbs all the moisture from the tissues in the throat, leaving it dry and scratchy. Therefore, while consuming alcohol, one must keep sipping on some water as well to soothe the throat.
There are a large number of allergens that cause a dry throat. Cleaning products, sawdust, pollination, animal fur, etc. are the most common allergens that cause the throat to go dry.
Botulism Food Poisoning
Botulism food poisoning is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. The toxins of this bacterium block nerve function, causing respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis. Within 12 to 36 hours after being infected with it, symptoms like dry throat and mouth become noticeable. If one suspects this form of food poisoning, seek professional medical assistance immediately.
Low water content in the body can make the throat go dry, especially in the winters. So, drink plenty of fluids and avoid salty foods to avoid dehydration.
Winter season reduces the levels of moisture in the air, forcing dry, cold air into the body while we breathe, which in turn irritates throat membranes causing them to feel dry and scratchy. This condition does not occur only during the winter. You can get a dry throat during any season if you spend a lot of time indoors with the air conditioner switched on. So, humidify the air around you, especially while spending long hours indoors.
Sjögren's syndrome is an systemic autoimmune disease that destroys the exocrine glands, which produce tears and saliva. As the production of saliva reduces (in some cases, stops completely), the mouth and the throat become dry.
Cancerous growth in the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils is known as throat cancer. Throat dryness is an accompanying symptom of this type of cancer.
Streptococcus bacteria can cause infection in the throat. This infection is contagious. It spreads through nasal discharge, saliva, coughing, sneezing, and touching.
Smoking cigarettes, consuming or using tobacco and/or any form of narcotics can cause a dry throat. The ingredients of these substances dehydrate the body. Smoking the leaves of cannabis plant (marijuana) causes the throat to become dry and scratchy. The easiest way to deal with this cause would be to avoid smoking, or reduce the frequency.
The tonsils swell up due to infections, tumors, cancer, abscesses or chronic tonsillitis, blocking saliva from reaching the throat. A dry throat caused due to the tonsillitis can be treated by medication or tonsillectomy.
Throat dryness also arises due to certain medical conditions like throat herpes, laryngitis, chronic cough, gastroesophageal reflux disease, strep throat, salivary gland cancer, etc. Treatment of the underlying condition is the key to ease the discomfort associated with dry throat.
Apart from the above mentioned factors, a dry throat is also caused due to excessive pressure on the vocal cords (screeching), fever or food that is excessively greasy or spicy. There are numerous ways to avoid a dry throat. Keeping oneself hydrated by increasing the intake of fluids is the most basic way to avoid this problem. However, if dryness in the throat is persistent, it would be best to consult a doctor as it could be a symptom of some serious health complication.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.