A sore throat at night can disturb your sleep and leave you feeling fatigued the following day. Luckily, most sore throats go away within a week without medical treatment. And while the condition lasts, there are plenty of home remedies to try that can reduce your discomfort and help you sleep.
Causes of a Sore Throat at Night
Viral infections cause the majority of sore throats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The viruses that infect your throat are also responsible for other respiratory conditions, such as the common cold and the flu. A sore throat at night could also be caused by allergies, dry air in the bedroom, indoor air pollution or smoking.
Another less common cause of this condition is a group A Streptococcus bacterial infection, otherwise known as strep throat. In addition to experiencing pain in the throat, this bacterial infection may cause red, swollen tonsils, tiny red spots at the back of the mouth, a fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands in the neck, headaches, body aches or a rash. Fortunately, only 5 to 15 of every 100 cases of sore throats in adults are due to strep throat — though in children, the incidence rate rises to every 20 to 30 cases in 100.
Baylor College of Medicine lists some further causes of a sore throat at night:
- Acid reflux, which is a condition where the stomach contents flow upward into the throat, causing pain and irritation.
- Mononucleosis, which is a whole-body, viral infection, often referred to as mono.
- Muscle tension in the throat.
- Tonsil stones, which consist of food debris embedded in the tonsils, resulting in inflammation of the tissues and discomfort.
If you suffer from a sore throat at night, consider assessing the air conditions in your bedroom. The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation recommends using a humidifier to help ease your symptoms. You should also consider increasing your liquids intake, drinking warm tea sweetened with honey and gargling with salt water. Dissolve a quarter teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water, gargle, spit it out and repeat a few times each day until your symptoms resolve.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
Though a sore throat often goes away on its own, it can sometimes be a symptom of something more serious. The CDC advises patients to seek medical care if their sore throat doesn't get better after one week.
Additionally, you should seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Blood in your phlegm or saliva
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Hoarseness for longer than two weeks
- Joint pain
- Pus in the back of your throat
- A rash
- A temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
You should also see a medical professional if your sore throat keeps returning. In young children, excessive drooling sometimes indicates medical treatment may be required, explains the CDC.
Losing sleep over a sore throat is annoying, but it's likely that the problem will resolve on its own after a few days. In the meantime, you can try these home remedies to find some relief. But if your symptoms persist or worsen, see a medical provider.