Why Is the Back of My Throat Dry? ---
Causes and Cures
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November 21, 2017

By Susan M. Callahan,  Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board]

Dryness at the back of the  throat, when it suddenly
appears for no reason you can identify, is a frightening
feeling. Am I getting a cold? Is it a sign throat cancer?  
What did I do to make my throat so dry?

Dry throats become more common as winter months set in
but, as you will see, there are things that can cause dry
throats in almost any season.

Choose Your Winter Indoor Heat Carefully to Avoid Throat

Sleeping in a room with dry indoor heat can cause dryness
at the back of the throat. You will likely notice the dryness
in the mornings, especially if you breathe through your
mouth at night.

When it comes to indoor heating, the type of heat you use
matters.  Use of certain types of indoor heat can not ony
create the type of dry heat that causes sore throats, it can
also emit particulates that can exacerbate sore throats and
create other respiratory problems.

The specific small particulates emitted are nitrogen dioxide,
and sulfur dioxide.

For example, use of kerosene indoor heaters raises the risk
for sore throat and respiratory problems even in women
who do not smoke, scientists found in a 2005 study from
Yale University School of Medicine.

Use of kerosene heaters raises sore throat and wheezing
risk by 6%. Fireplaces are even worse for  your throat. For
each hour you use a fireplace, it raises your risk by 5%, so
four hours of that cozy fireplace would raise your risk of a
scratchy throat by 20%.

By the way, using indoor heaters also increases your risk of
chest tightening. Sulfur dioxide is the culprit here.
Particulates are measured typically in parts per billion
(ppb). Each 10 ppb increase in sulfur dioxide is associated
with an average 57% increase in wheezing (1.57;
1.10-2.26) and chest tightness. This figure is just an
average -- some people experience as little as 10% and as
much as a 220% increase in wheezing and chest tightness.

Cooking Can Make the Back of Your Throat Dry

You're in the kitchen, frying up some meat for dinner, the
pan is hot, the food looks yummy, the mood is festive, the
last thing you're thinking about is indoor pollution. But in
fact, that is exactly what you're in the middle of creating.

A 1993 report from Office of Toxicology Sciences, Food and
Drug Administration confirmed the dangers to your throat
ad lungs from cooking. The World Health Organization also
warned that cooking with solid fuels, prevalent in
developing countries, is responsible for alarming levels of
throat afflictions and asthma. About 3 billion people around
the world use wood, crop waste and dung as cooking fuels,
resulting in 4 million premature deaths. About 50% of all
premature deaths from pneumonia for children under the
age of 5 years old are caused by cooking with solid fuels.

We in the US and Europe do not typically use solid fuels for
cooking except in one glaring exception --- when we
barbecue. When we barbecue, we expose our lungs and
throats to the same risks that people in the Third World
experience when they cook with solid fuels.

The best precaution to take if you are getting dry throats is
to cook on medium to low heat. Avoid using coal, wood or
any other solid fuel. Avoid barbecuing or any other
open-flame cooking methods.

Seasonal Allergies That Cause Dry Throat

Allergies, seasonal or not, are a common cause of dry
throats. The seasonal allergies that cause dry throats are
well -known, with hay fever being the most common cause.

But even during colder months, you may experience dry
throats after exposure to allergens. Certain food allergies
such as dairy allergies or gluten sensitivities can cause a
range of symptoms, including dry throat.

Less commonly known are allergies to mites found in
mattresses and pillows. These can cause dry throats.

Pollution As a Hidden Cause of Dry Throat

The same particulates that can cause dry throats from
indoor heating also exist outside. Car, bus, and truck
pollution are a known source of throat irritations in
metropolitan areas.

Since the 1970s, scientists have documented the effects on
our health from exposure to air pollutants. A 1994 study
from the Environmental Epidemiology Program, Harvard
School of Public Health, found that the most dangerous are
small sulfur dioxide particles. As the study observed:"
Smaller particles ("the fine mode") are < 2.5 J.Lm
aerodynamic diameter and are often acidic. These fine
particles include soot and acid-condensates derived from
vehicle emissions, manufacturing, power generation, and
agricultural burning."

Air pollution even changes the effectiveness of antibiotics.
A 2017 study from  the University of Leicester discovered
that air pollution can "change the way bacteria behave and
can change their potential to cause disease".

Thus, even if you are using antibiotics to clear up a sore
throat, exposure to pollution during the day will slow o
even prevent those antibiotics from working optimally.

There is not a lot that you can do to avoid pollution if you
live in a congested city. But one small change can help.
Simply stand away from the curb by at least 3 feet; Studies
have found that particulate levels from passing cars, buses
and other vehicles drops dramatically depending on your
distance from the exhaust pipe.

Make it a point to walk closer to buildings and farther away
from the curb.


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Standing too close to traffic can
cause throat dryness at night.