A dry scratchy throat is generally a symptom of some other health condition. It can occur due to varied causes such as bacterial infections like whooping cough or strep throat; viral infections like flu or cold; and dryness, allergies, excessive and continuous talking, and elevated muscle strain.
Dry scratchy throat is usually a harmless condition and often resolves via self-care measures and home remedies. However, if the problem persists or if it is accompanied by fever, then consult a doctor.
Some of the common signs and symptoms that occur along with dry scratchy throat are listed below:
- Intense itchiness in the throat
- Burning sensations in the throat
- Swollen tonsils, if dry scratchy throat is caused due to strep throat
- Pain in the throat
- Mucus discharge
- Sleep disturbances
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Swallowing troubles
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Soreness on just one side of the throat
- Stuffy nose
Severe cases of dry scratchy throat may be accompanied by the below listed symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention in such cases.
- High fever
- Feeling of tightness when swallowing
- Ear pain
- Breathing problems
- Blood in mucus
Causes of dry scratchy throat
Some of the common causes of dry scratchy throat are listed below:
- Viral infections: Flu and the common cold are the most common viral infections that cause dry scratchy throat. Flu attacks the throat, nose, and lungs and can cause high fever. It is treated with antiviral medications. Other symptoms experienced by patients of cold and flu include coughing, nasal congestion, exhaustion, sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat.
- Bacterial infections: Strep throat and tonsillitis are the two most common types of bacterial infections that cause dry scratchy throat. The former is caused due to infection by streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Additional symptoms include fever, throat ache, headache, swallowing difficulties, formation of white patches on the tonsils, swollen tonsils, fatigue, and reduced ability to taste food.
- Straining of the throat muscles: Cheering at a sports event, giving a prolonged lecture or speech, talking non-stop, or talking loudly in a raucous bar can strain the voice box and throat muscles, leading to dry scratchy throat and hoarse voice.
- Post-nasal drip: It is not a medical condition but a symptom of some other underlying disorder like infections, sinusitis, etc., and is characterized by increased production of mucus. This mucus accumulates at the back of the nose and throat triggering dry scratchy throat.
- Allergies: Some humans are allergic to dust, pollen, pet danger, certain weathers, mold, and certain food items, etc. Contact with such allergens can result in allergic reactions that are characterized by dry scratchy throat, swollen red eyes, runny nose, and skin rashes. Avoiding exposure to the allergens is the best way to prevent allergic reactions.
- Certain habits: Eating cold, or spicy and hot food, smoking, and alcohol abuse can cause dry scratchy throat. Quitting smoking, abstaining from alcohol, and other lifestyle changes is the best remedy.
- Air pollution: Inhalation of harmful chemicals and gases present in the air can irritate the throat. Such throat irritation may deteriorate during nighttime and cause dry scratchy throat.
- Dry air: Breathing in of dry air, a common phenomenon in the colder months, can irritate the throat and cause dry scratchy throat. Installing a humidifier can help alleviate the symptoms and prevent future cases of throat soreness.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease/GERD: This digestive disorder is characterized by the upward flow of stomach acids, and sometimes bile, back into the food pipe. This can irritate the esophageal lining and result in dry scratchy throat.
- Other causes: Deficient consumption of water, keeping the mouth open when sleeping, and use of heaters during the colder months can trigger an episode of dry scratchy throat.
Treatment for dry scratchy throat
Treatment of dry scratchy throat is aimed at finding out the underlying cause and then remedying it as per standard medical procedures.
- OTC cough syrups and cough drops can help find relief from coughing and throat irritation. Some are non-sedative while others are sedatives. So check the label properly before using.
- Sucking on lozenges instantly alleviates dry scratchy throat. They are available in varied flavors.
- Painkillers may be used to ease severe throat pain.
- Doctors may recommend antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction. They will also diagnose and verify the allergen that has caused the reaction and advice on how to avoid contact with it.
- Gargling with warm water and antimicrobial Myrrh will cleanse the throat, decrease infection, and offer instant relief.
- Drinking tea made with Coltsfoot, thrice for 2 days can alleviate dry scratchy throat.
The following home remedies are effective in treating minor instances of dry scratchy throat:
- Gargling with warm saline water helps kill any bacteria, moisturizes the tissue, soothes the throat, and increases blood flow to the area. You may boil some water, add salt to it, let it cool down and then gargle without drinking the solution, at least 2 times a day.
- Sprinkle black pepper in some honey, mix and lick it. You may also prepare some green tea, add lemon juice and honey to it, and drink it. Honey will relax the throat, ease scratchiness, and its antibacterial properties will aid faster healing. The antioxidants in tea and lemon will enhance the immune system.
- Warm clear chicken soup or one flavored with parsley, turmeric, and garlic will help reduce congestion, better breathing, and alleviate dry scratchy throat.
- Licorice root has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a sweet flavor. Drink licorice tea to alleviate irritation and soreness in the throat.
- Garlic has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Crush a few pieces of garlic and eat it. You may add honey to the paste if it is too hot. Side effects include bad breath.
- The anti-inflammatory qualities of marshmallow leaf helps eliminate mucus and dry scratchy throat. It is available as capsules.
- Ginger, honey, and lemon juice tea is also useful for treating throat problems.
- Drinking warm milk mixed with some turmeric helps find relief from dry scratchy throat, and other symptoms of sore throat, bronchitis, and tonsillitis, etc.
- Steam therapy, i.e., inhalation of steam, can help clear throat infection and provide relief.
- Vitamin C tablets as well as intake of foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, black currants, etc., help heal a dry scratchy throat and prevent additional infections.
Drinking lots of water and fruit juices like pineapple juice; avoiding excessive talking and resting the throat; avoiding cold, spicy, hot, and oily foods; avoiding contact with infected people; and good personal hygiene can help alleviate and prevent future instances of dry scratchy throat.