Can Drinking Alcohol Cause a Sore Throat?

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Drinking alcohol may contribute to a sore throat.
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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 sore throat. Alcohol-induced dehydration may be the cause of your scratchy throat, but a weakened immune system could be the culprit, too.

If you're planning to have a few drinks during a night out, be sure to drink plenty of water and prioritize a good night of sleep. However, if you do wake up feeling dehydrated and scratchy, skip the hair of the dog and opt for some warm tea.

Read more: 14 Wine Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask

Alcohol and Dehydration

There's a reason you're often 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.

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.

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 affect, too.

Read more: 8 Hydration Mistakes You're Probably Making and How to Fix Them

Alcohol and Your Immune System

Alcohol consumption can also cause a weakening of the immune system, impairing your body's ability to defend itself against infection, according to a 2015 article published in Alcohol Research. Drinking alcohol can also hinder your body's ability to recover from injury or sickness.

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

Sipping warm tea can help rehydrate you and relieve the pain of a sore throat.
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Healing Your Sore Throat

Depending on the cause of your sore throat, there are several measures you can take to soothe your pain. Getting plenty of rest is the first thing to prioritize if you're feeling pain or soreness, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Especially if you're experiencing any of the other common hangover symptoms, plenty of rest will likely make you feel better.

Drinking plenty of fluids (like water or tea) can also help you rehydrate and alleviate any dryness. You can also mix a half teaspoon of salt in a glass of water to create a saltwater gargle to temporarily relieve the pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. But be sure to avoid caffeine and (of course) more alcoholic beverages, which can further dehydrate you.

If your sore throat is accompanied by a cold or flu, though, 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 consult your doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections, it is best to call your doctor before leaving the house if you are experiencing a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom.
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