Sore throats are a fairy common symptom, and the best way to treat this discomfort is to understand the cause. A sore throat is typically related to a respiratory illness or allergies, but if the throat discomfort occurs only in the evening, your habits or environment may be to blame. Home measures can help relieve a sore throat, but if the pain persists or is accompanied by a fever, see your doctor.
For a sore throat that occurs primarily in the evening, check your environment and your habits. For instance, dry air zaps the throat of moisture and makes the area's mucous membranes dry and sore. Smoke, pollution or other irritants can also lead to an irritated, sore throat. If your day is filled with talking, shouting or singing, your throat may be sore from overused and strained vocal cords.
A sore throat can also be related to allergies, and the discomfort may occur in the evening if this is when you are more exposed to pollen, mold or pet dander. Another cause of a sore throat is acid reflux, a symptom in which the stomach sends acid back up into the esophagus. This symptom may be more apparent after large meals, such as the evening one.
There are different ways to soothe a sore throat at home, so if the discomfort is from dry air or strained vocal cords, resting the voice and drinking plenty of fluids will help soothe the throat and can prevent ongoing problems. If indoor air is dry, use a humidifier to add needed moisture to the air. If polluted indoor air is the source of discomfort, minimize exposure to polluted air, and try a home air purifier to help prevent ongoing throat irritation.
Pain can be managed with throat lozenges, tea with honey, or gargling with warm salt water. Over-the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, or an anesthetic throat gargle may also help. If you are under a doctor's care for any medical conditions, or if the person with the sore throat is a young child, seek advice about pain relieve options first.
If your sore throat is related to allergies, discuss a treatment plan with your doctor. This may include nasal sprays or antihistamines, and avoidance of the allergen if possible. If the sore throat is from an infection, your doctor may recommend home treatment or antibiotics, and if the sore throat is related to the flu, antivirals may be prescribed. Sore throat related to acid reflux may respond well to smaller meals, staying upright at least 2 hours after the evening meal, and acid-blocking medications if recommended by your doctor.
There are certain times when a sore throat, accompanied by other warning signs, requires a trip to the doctor's office. See your doctor if the sore throat last for several days, or if it accompanied by severe pain, rash, difficulty swallowing or breathing, fever or other concerning symptoms. Also, if you have an evening sore throat, and it persists for more than a week, talk to your doctor to help understand what's causing this symptom and to receive a treatment plan.
Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD