A sore throat is nothing but irritation and itching in the throat.
We consider sore throat to be a not-so-important or not-to-worry kind of symptom. Well, sometimes it's true, but sometimes this sore throat can indicate something more than just a dry mouth.
Whenever we have a sore throat, we would just take a spoonful of honey or take lozenges that are available in the market. Most of the time these remedies will be enough, but there are times when they seem to be less effective. It is common when you have a sore throat daily or for a long time and if the sore throat is associated with a lot of pain (especially when swallowing or talking).
So, let’s see what causes a sore throat.
Causes of sore throat
Dry mouth and dehydration:
Dehydration is among the most common cause of sore throat. When our body is dehydrated, it cannot produce enough mucus to keep the mouth and throat moist. This causes dry mouth. A dry mouth will cause irritation in the throat leading to a sore throat.
When we are sleeping, we go for nearly 6-8 hours without water. This makes sense why many people wake up with a sore throat.
The hot and dry climate in the summers is another big reason for dehydration and dry mouth. Most of us feel like we have filled our tummies with water and have no space for food in the summer. This is because of thirst. Thirst is a sign by which our body tells us that it is getting dehydrated.
Post-nasal drip, in simple terms, is the movement or flow of mucus from the back of your nose to the throat. This is one of the worst feelings (symptoms) when we have a cold.
Apart from the common cold, post-nasal drip can be a symptom of many other conditions like sinusitis, nasal polyps, allergies, or some infection in the upper and lower part of our respiratory tract.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the throat. A person may experience pain, itching and irritation, a scratchy feeling in the throat, and pain while swallowing. A sore throat due to bacterial infection (strep throat) may not be easy to differentiate from the non-infectious causes of sore throat. However, if you have a sore throat along with a fever, then there are possibilities that it is due to an infection.
Our body is designed to breathe from the nose. But there are times when we cannot efficiently breathe from our nose and all we can do is breathe from our mouth.
When we have a blocked nose, it is difficult to breathe from our nose, and when we feel we aren't getting enough air, we automatically start breathing from our mouth. This also happens with people who snore.
Breathing from our mouth can cause our throat to become dry. This is because our mouth will not warm and moisten the air we are breathing (like the nose does). A dry mouth can cause a sore throat and bad breath from the mouth. Mouth breathing is most commonly seen when we are sleeping.
People who snore usually wake up with a dry mouth and sore throat. This usually happens because of mouth breathing. During sleep, some people may not be able to breathe properly from their nose because of their tongue and throat muscles. In some people, the tongue and throat muscles relax to an extent that they partially block the airflow. This will force people to breathe from their mouths.
Exposure to irritants:
Exposure to irritants like smoke, fumes from vehicles and factories, chemicals, dust, allergens and other external things that can irritate the throat can be a reason for sore throat. Cold and dry air can also act as an irritant and cause sore throat.
Viral infections like cold and flu:
Like runny nose or sneezing, even sore throat can be a common symptom of viral infections like cold and flu. One of the reasons for this is post-nasal drip which is common in upper respiratory infections like a common cold or flu.
Exercise helps us stay fit. We all should exercise to keep our body healthy and diseases at bay. But when we are doing strenuous exercise, walking for a long time or running, most of us start to breathe from our mouth. This mouth breathing makes us inhale dry air, which can cause dryness in the throat.
Lower respiratory conditions:
In people with asthma and bronchitis, the airways are narrowed, which provides less space for the air to pass. Now, when these people get a common cold, flu or sinus infection, breathing becomes even more difficult. So, they start to breathe from their mouth, which can cause sore throat. These things (cold, flu and sinusitis) can even trigger their asthma.