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Medical Symptoms of Dry Mouth and Sore Throat

by
author image Dr. Tina M. St. John
Tina M. St. John runs a health communications and consulting firm. She is also an author and editor, and was formerly a senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John holds an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.
Medical Symptoms of Dry Mouth and Sore Throat
A woman is experiencing a cold. Photo Credit Manuel Faba Ortega/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

A dry mouth and sore throat often provoke secondary symptoms, which may cause additional distress and discomfort. The causes of a dry mouth and sore throat vary widely in severity, from the common cold to permanent malfunction of the moisture-secreting salivary glands. The medical symptoms that accompany a dry mouth and sore throat can help health care professionals determine the underlying cause and appropriate therapy.

Pain with Eating

Patients with a dry mouth and sore throat commonly experience pain with eating. The chemicals in foods may irritate the dry tissues of the mouth and inflamed throat lining, causing pain. Salty and spicy foods are particularly likely to cause pain, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Impaired Taste

A dry mouth and throat often cause taste impairments, including a decreased ability to sense flavor and a metallic or foul taste to foods. The taste-emitting chemicals in food must dissolve in saliva to be recognized by the taste receptors located on the tongue, roof of the mouth and in the upper throat, explains the biomedical website of Colorado State University. Thus, people with a dry mouth and throat typically experience taste abnormalities.

Swallowing Difficulty

Saliva acts as a lubricant, coating and moisturizing food to help it pass easily down the throat. People with a dry mouth and sore throat often experience painful or difficult swallowing, notes the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Moistening food with gravies and sauces or sipping water with each bite of food can help facilitate swallowing among people with chronic mouth and throat dryness or pain.

Speaking Difficulty

A dry mouth and sore throat can cause speaking difficulties via different mechanisms. Mouth dryness typically causes stickiness of the lips, cheeks, teeth and tongue, which interferes with the complex and finely coordinated positioning of these structures that occurs with speaking. Additionally, a sore throat may cause pain with speaking. Irritation of the vocal cords associated with a sore or dry throat also frequently leads to voice weakness or hoarseness. Sipping water provides a temporary solution to speaking difficulties caused by mouth dryness. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that artificial saliva may prove useful for patients with chronic mouth and throat dryness.

Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, may occur in some patients with a dry mouth and sore throat. Inadequate saliva disrupts natural cleansing of the mouth, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. Decaying food particles and bacterial overgrowth can cause a foul breath odor. Keeping the mouth clean with regular brushing and flossing may help decrease bad breath associated with a dry mouth and sore throat.

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