If you find that you wake up with a dry mouth and sore throat in the morning and think that it means you are coming down with a cold, you may be on the wrong track. If you’re waking up with a sore throat regularly that then goes away later in the day, and you don’t have any other cold or flu symptoms, this may mean that your snoring is to blame. Of course, if you sleep alone, you may not even know that you snore—which would be why you might not suspect that is the reason for your sore throat!
Can a Sore Throat Cause Snoring?
Ideally, a person who is breathing in a healthy manner during sleep with breathe through their nasal passages and their mouth will remain closed. However, many people who have stuffy noses for various reasons, or who just happen to be mouth breathers, may find the only way to get enough oxygen is to breathe through their mouths during sleep. They don’t even know they’re doing it. Mouth breathing can contribute to a sore throat which can then, in turn, cause you to snore. It’s a vicious cycle.
When you have a sore throat, it can certainly be the cause of snoring or at least make it worse than it might have been otherwise. The cycle starts out with mouth breathing that causes the throat to be dry and irritated. The dry, irritated, and sore throat leads to inflammation of the delicate tissues in the mouth such as the soft palate and uvula. Inflammation can obstruct the air and lead to the vibration of these tissues which makes the sound commonly known as snoring.
Sore throat symptoms that lead to snoring may also be caused by something other than mouth breathing. The common cold or a virus can cause a sore throat that leads to snoring. Allergies that cause the nose to run into the back of the throat can cause a sore throat and lead to snoring. Overuse of the voice at a sporting event or concert can also cause swelling and lead to a sore throat. Pollution, smoking, or other irritants in the air can also be culprits that lead to a sore throat and eventually result in snoring. Some of these may be one-time situations while others may be repeated and chronic.
Can Snoring Cause a Sore Throat?
There are several reasons that snoring may be related to a sore throat. If you are snoring loudly, it is likely that you are breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Also, if you are a mouth breather, and the air in the room happens to be even just the tiniest bit dry, then you may find yourself with a sore throat simply from your mouth breathing and snoring. This may be particularly true during winter months when the air is not often humid or damp and central heating dries out the air even more.
The other reason that mouth breathing and snoring may cause a sore throat, even if the air isn’t especially dry, is because the soft palate and the uvula can become swollen from the air flowing through them and the tissues vibrating all night long. The friction creates irritation for these delicate tissues which may create swelling and soreness.
Snoring, Sore Throat and Sleep Apnea
One of the important considerations of a sore throat and snoring combined is that you may very well be at risk for a serious health condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea is disorder in which breathing is obstructed during the sleep. When this happens, the body and brain are deprived of oxygen for a period of time until the brain jars the body awake to alert it to breathe. The cycle continues throughout the night and the person wakes feeling exhausted.
Snoring and a sore throat in the morning are two of many signs and symptoms that you may be at risk for sleep apnea. Others include:
- Morning headache
- Dry, ‘cotton’ mouth in the morning
- Waking up in the night choking or gasping for air
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Falling asleep during activity such as driving or while reading
- Weight gain
- Night sweats
- Waking up often to go to the bathroom
- Irritability, depression or mood swings
- High blood pressure
Other than simply causing a sore or dry throat, sleep apnea can be a very serious condition leading to other health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke and even premature death. If you think you have signs of sleep apnea or are at risk, be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns to get an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for Sore Throat and Snoring
If your sore throat is simply caused by snoring, you may have a few different options for treatment. A cool mist humidifier set up in your bedroom can help to make up for missing moisture in the room and soothe the rough breathing that causes snoring and a sore throat.
Natural essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint may be helpful in reducing congestion that leads to snoring and causes a sore throat. Add a few drops to a cool mist humidifier in the bedroom, or apply topically (dilute with carrier oil) to the chest, neck, and shoulders before going to sleep to help open up the airways and reduce snoring.
Stopping snoring may be what you need to stop your sore throat. The way to stop snoring will depend on what is causing it in the first place. Losing weight, changing sleep positions from back to side, using nasal strips, making use of a mouth guard, or even having surgery for a deviated septum may be what your doctor recommends to help you to start breathing properly during the night.
Having a sore throat from snoring can be frustrating, but you don’t have to live with it forever. Get yourself back on track by reducing your tendency to snore and treating your sore throat. The cycle for sore throat and snoring real, but you can end it!