You may develop a sore throat as a symptom of a medical condition. Some common causes of a temporary or chronic sore throat include:
- Strep throat
- Common cold
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
However, if you have a chronic sore throat that’s not caused by an underlying medical condition or infection, you may have a breathing disorder or a sleep-related breathing disorder. Mouth breathing, for instance, frequently causes a sore throat.
Your nose is perfectly designed for breathing: It traps pathogens and warms and moistens the air before it enters your lungs. Nose breathing also produces an important compound called nitric oxide (NO), which dilates your blood vessels and keeps them healthy.
In contrast, breathing through your mouth exposes your lungs to bacteria and viruses. Mouth breathing doesn’t produce NO. It also dries out your throat, making it feel sore and scratchy.
Dana J. Rockey, DMD — founder of South County Sleep Solutions and Prescott Sleep Solutions — is an expert at diagnosing and treating sleep-disordered breathing. Our teams in Newport Beach, California, and Prescott, Arizona, compiled this guide to help you figure out if your dry throat is connected to disordered breathing.
Are you dehydrated?
Your throat may be dry because you’re not drinking enough fluids during the day, which leads to dehydration.
Other signs of dehydration include:
- Dark urine
You can remedy dehydration by increasing your fluid intake. Men should drink about 13 cups of healthy liquids a day while women should drink about 9 cups daily.If you work out a lot or sweat, you may need more.
Do you snore?
If you snore, you may be breathing through your mouth, which dries out your throat and causes sore throat. If you snore loudly enough to awaken yourself or a companion, you may have a type of sleep-disordered breathing called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing multiple times per night. Snoring is one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea. So is a sore throat, particularly in the morning. Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk for life-threatening illnesses, including heart attacks and stroke.
Do you have other symptoms?
When you don’t get the restorative sleep you need because of a breathing disorder, you may have a variety of other symptoms, too.
Sleep apnea may cause you to experience:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
- Morning headache
- Waking up gagging
Sleep apnea also increases your risk for obesity. In turn, being obese or overweight increases your risk for a type of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Proper night breathing soothes your throat
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when some part of your anatomy blocks your airway so that you can’t breathe freely and easily through the night. Often, the remedy is simple: Move your jaw forward so that your airway stays open.
Dr. Rockey offers a dental sleep apnea treatment that's a customized oral appliance. It looks and feels like a sports mouth guard, but it holds your jaw in a forward position so that your tongue and other tissues can relax forward instead of collapsing back into your throat.
If you have a chronically sore throat that isn’t caused by a medical condition, find out if you have sleep apnea and get the treatment you need by calling us today at 949-558-0554 in Newport Beach, California, or 928-235-6925 in Prescott, Arizona. You can also reach us via our online message form.