Why You Wake Up With A Sore Throat, Even When You're Not Sick

While most people associate a sore throat with strep throat or other illnesses, waking up with a dry, scratchy throat can occur for many different reasons. Therefore, you may want to consider some other possible causes for your sore throat before rushing to the doctor.

A sore throat is characterized by irritation of the throat, often in the form of pain or a scratchy sensation (via the Mayo Clinic). Additional symptoms can include swollen glands, red tonsils, painful swallowing, and a hoarse voice, amongst others. According to Healthline, painful sore throats are responsible for over 13 million physician visits annually. While infection is often the main cause of a sore throat, it is not the only cause. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while 20-30% of throat infections in children are due to strep throat, that still leaves 70-80% of sore throats related to something else.

Ruling out strep throat and other bacterial or viral infections, here are some lesser-known and more surprising causes of a morning sore throat.

You may be facing your fan the wrong way

An early morning sore throat may be due to dehydration. According to WebMD, because we're not consuming any liquids for numerous consecutive hours while snoozing, the result can be a sore throat upon waking. Even if you're someone who keeps water by your bedside, dehydration can alternatively occur from excessive nighttime sweating or from certain medications that induce frequent urination.

Trying to keep your bedroom cool and ventilated? The circulation of dry air from a fan or open window may be to blame for your sore throat. "Cool air from an open window can help people breathe better, unless the air is very dry," Dr. Michael Benninger, chairman of the Head & Neck Institute, told the Cleveland Clinic. "The most common reasons for a sore throat in the morning are a dry environment, especially in winter ..." Therefore, if you're someone who uses a fan to get that dry wintertime air moving at night, Dr. Benninger suggests keeping the fan directed away from you to avoid exposure to direct airflow.

Acid reflux or snoring may be causing your sore throat

If you have a partner prone to snoring who wakes up complaining of a dry throat in the morning, snoring may actually be the culprit. According to WebMD, when snoring, the throat muscles open up. As oxygen makes its way through the windpipe, the surrounding tissue vibrates. All of that vibrating, coupled with open mouth breathing, can give you a sore throat come morning.

Interestingly, if you're someone who experiences acid reflux, you may also find yourself waking up with a sore throat. The side effects of acid reflux are often worse than those experienced during the daytime. To help avoid the backup of stomach acids into the throat, MedicalNewsToday suggests elevating your head 6-8 inches while sleeping. Try to hold off on lying down in bed within 2-3 hours following a meal.

If your morning sore throat has not gone away after a week, even after making some of these recommended changes, be sure to speak with your doctor (via WebMD). This is particularly important if your sore throat is accompanied by fever, trouble breathing, lumps, or bloody phlegm or saliva (via Healthline).