How to Prevent and Soothe a Sore Throat After Drinking

It's common to have a sore throat after drinking, but there are ways to help prevent and soothe the ache.
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When you wake up after a night of several alcoholic drinks, you might be met with a dry mouth, headache and — yes — an achy throat.

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Here's why you may get a sore throat after drinking, plus how to remedy it and prevent it in the first place.

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What Causes a Sore Throat After Drinking

Dehydration is a common cause of throat pain or dryness after drinking, according to the American Addiction Centers. But the cocktails you choose, the amount you drink and even the volume of your voice are all contributing factors (more on that below).

Your immune system may even be to blame. Alcohol can impair your body's ability to defend itself against infection, hindering your recovery from injury or sickness, according to a 2015 paper in ​Alcohol Research.

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Alcohol's damage to your immune system can make you more susceptible to illness, which is another likely cause of sore throat after drinking. Viral infections, like a cold or the flu, are actually the most common cause of soreness in the throat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

With all of that in mind, here are the best ways to prevent and remedy a sore throat after drinking alcohol.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat After Drinking

1. Stay Hydrated

There's a reason you're told to drink plenty of water after having a few drinks. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, which means it increases how frequently you urinate, according to the American Addiction Centers. This is why alcohol can lead to dehydration, causing symptoms like sore throat, thirst, headache or dry mouth.

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Dehydration of any kind (alcohol-induced, too) can cause dryness in your mouth, causing a sore throat. Often, alcohol-induced dehydration is known as a hangover, which can also cause symptoms like fatigue, headache, poor sleep or dizziness, per the Mayo Clinic.

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2. Know Your Limit

When you go overboard with your alcohol, you may end up seeing your cocktails return in reverse. As you drink, your stomach lining becomes inflamed, causing irritation, nausea and potentially vomiting, according to the American Addiction Centers.

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As stomach acids and alcohol come back up your esophagus, they may cause irritation and burning in the throat that can last well into the morning after. That's why knowing your own limits with alcohol is crucial to help you avoid unwanted hangover effects.

3. Avoid Darker Alcohol

A group of hangover-inducing chemicals in most alcoholic drinks are called congeners, a product of the fermentation process, according to the Mayo Clinic. Generally, dark liquors like brandy and bourbon contain higher levels of congeners, including methanol, which can worsen a hangover.

Although lighter liquors, like vodka, won't necessarily make your hangovers and sore throat any less severe, steering clear of dark alcohol may help.

Sore Throat After Drinking Wine?

Second only to brandy, red wine is ranked as having the highest congener content and hangover severity, according to a March 2008 article in Alcohol and Alcoholism. So, if a dark cab happens to be your go-to beverage, you may want to stick to just one glass.

4. Limit Carbonated Beverages

Feeling a sore throat after drinking beer? The carbonation may be to blame.

Fizzy drinks — including beer, sparkling wine or mixed drinks — activate nerves in your nose and mouth that trigger feelings of burning or pain. That's why you may have a sore throat after drinking soda mixed with vodka or your favorite bubbly, according to the University of Southern California.

5. Speak Softer

In some cases, the circumstances surrounding alcohol consumption can also cause a sore throat. If you're in a bar or restaurant, speaking too loudly may cause muscle tension or voice strain, which can also lead to tightness in your throat, according to Duke University Health. Exposure to secondhand smoke may have the same effect, too.

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5 Remedies for a Sore Throat After Drinking Alcohol

Sipping warm tea can help rehydrate you and relieve the pain of a sore throat.
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Prevention is ideal, but if you find yourself with an achy throat after drinking, there are several natural remedies for a sore throat you can try.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Our bodies use sleep to recover and heal, so getting plenty of rest is the first thing to prioritize if your throat is sore, per the Mayo Clinic.

Keep in mind that although alcohol is technically considered a sedative, it can throw your sleep cycles out of whack, hindering your ability to get restful sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic. So skip the "hair of the dog" if you wake up with a sore throat and consider taking a power nap or turning in early.

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2. Drink Some Hydrating Beverages

Drinking plenty of fluids can help you rehydrate and alleviate any scratchiness in the throat, per the Mayo Clinic.

Sipping on herbal tea with honey or water with lemon throughout your day will promote hydration and may even provide some pain relief, according to Penn Medicine.

You may also want to avoid caffeine and (of course) more alcoholic beverages, as they can make you feel even more dehydrated.

Try a Saltwater Rinse

Some find that gargling saltwater helps alleviate a sore throat after drinking. Just mix a half teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water, according to the Mayo Clinic. Gargle the mixture for a few seconds, then spit it out.

3. Try Throat Lozenges

Although there's no guarantee lozenges will cure your sore throat, they probably won't hurt.

Over-the-counter lozenges contain ingredients that can provide pain-relieving effects in as quickly as five minutes, and they may provide relief even after the candy has dissolved, according to a January 2010 study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

4. Turn on Your Humidifier

Dry air is known for causing dry or scratchy sensations in the throat, according to Penn Medicine. Combine that with a night of overindulgent drinking, and throat pain is practically inevitable.

Turning on a humidifier or taking a steamy shower can help give the air in your room a little moisture.

5. See a Doctor When Needed

If your sore throat is accompanied by a cold or flu, you may want to take some added measures if your symptoms persist. In addition to sipping plenty of liquids and prioritizing your rest, you can try over-the-counter cold or cough medications, according to the Mayo Clinic. But if you experience fever or digestive unrest, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker.
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