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Updated on July 31, 2023
7 min read

Why Does My Throat Hurt After Drinking Alcohol?

Vince Ayaga
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
14 Sources Cited
Vince Ayaga
Written by 
14 Sources Cited

Key Takeaways

  • A sore throat after drinking alcohol occurs due to the antidiuretic nature of alcohol, a weak immune system, straining of the vocal cords, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • You can prevent a sore throat after drinking by staying hydrated, speaking softly, avoiding mouth dryness, resting, and avoiding dark liquors.
  • Drinking in moderation also helps avoid sore throats and other alcohol-related issues.
  • A sore throat can be treated using home remedies such as salt rinses, lemon water, hot soup, lozenges, and plenty of rest.
  • If your sore throat lasts longer than a week and is accompanied by painful swallowing or fever, seek immediate medical attention.
  • If you have an alcohol problem that is causing you to experience frequent sore throats, speak to an alcohol addiction specialist.

Drinking Alcohol and Sore Throat

Have you ever experienced a sore throat after partying and alcohol consumption? It isn't a pleasant feeling, especially with a hangover. Alcohol-induced dehydration from a hangover can lead to waking up with fatigue, thirst, headaches, and a sore throat.

The most common symptoms of sore throat include:

  • Painful or scratchy throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking
  • Swollen tonsils
  • A hoarse voice

Besides worsening due to alcohol consumption, sore throat can come from an infection (strep throat) which leads to symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
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What Causes a Sore Throat After Drinking?

Various conditions contribute to the development of a sore throat after drinking. This includes:

  • Vomiting ⁠— Someone who has vomited several times after drinking might experience throat pain. Vomiting releases stomach acid into the throat, harming the esophageal lining.
  • Loud yelling, singing, and talking ⁠— Yelling and loud singing can strain vocal cords, leaving you with a husky voice and a sore throat the next morning.
  • The diuretic nature of alcohol ⁠— Alcohol-induced dehydration makes you urinate often, decreasing the amount of water in your body. This dries out the protective mucus on your throat, causing friction that leads to a sore throat.
  • Weak immune system ⁠— Chronic alcohol consumption weakens the immune system.1 It makes the body vulnerable to bacterial, fungal, and viral infection, causing a sore throat.2
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) ⁠— A sore throat is a frequent GERD symptom. Alcohol can contribute to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to an increased risk of acid reflux and a potential sore throat.
  • Sulfite sensitivity ⁠— Beer and wine contains sulfites, which can trigger asthma symptoms in people with sulfite sensitivity.11 These beverages can also lead to Anaphylaxis (an acute allergic reaction) which can cause sore throat.
  • Grain allergy ⁠— A grain allergy can also cause asthma and lead to anaphylaxis in severe cases.12 Grain alcohol can worsen these allergic reactions and cause a sore throat.
  • Alcohol intolerance ⁠— Alcohol intolerance can worsen a runny nose or pre-existing asthma conditions a person may have. Your body's reaction to alcohol intolerance can cause a sore throat.

6 Ways to Prevent a Sore Throat After Drinking

Avoiding alcohol or only having a few drinks is the best way to prevent an alcohol-related sore throat. However, it may not be enough to get rid of its symptoms.

Below are some of the best ways to prevent a sore throat after drinking:

1. Stay Hydrated

Alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration. It leads to several symptoms associated with a hangover, including headache, dry mouth, and nausea.3

Drinking fluids such as water after a night of drinking will help reduce or prevent symptoms such as dry mouth, fatigue, insomnia, and headache. In addition, your body will recover by regaining water lost during increased urination.

2. Humidify the Room

Dry air is also known to cause a sore throat after drinking. According to experts, breathing dry air, especially through the mouth, can cause a scratchy and dry throat.4

Turning on a humidifier or hopping into a steamy shower helps introduce some humidity in the air. It smoothes the air you breathe, preventing a sore throat.

3. Speak Softer

Speaking softly will minimize the strain on your vocal cords to prevent a sore throat.

In places that sell alcohol, you may have to speak loudly due to the loud music or noise from other people. Shouting or yelling causes muscle and voice strain, resulting in a husky voice from a sore throat.5

4. Avoid Dark Liquors

Instead of dark liquors, consider lighter drinks like gin, rum, and vodka when you’re out drinking. Dark alcoholic drinks like whiskey, tequila, and cognac have high levels of Congeners. Congeners are byproducts of the fermentation process that contribute to severe hangovers.

5. Get Enough Sleep Before Going Out to Drink

Fatigue from sleep deprivation can enhance hangover symptoms like a sore throat. Therefore, getting enough sleep before drinking can reduce the intensity of a hangover.

6. Know Your Limit

Most people can drink alcohol safely in moderation. When you drink beyond your limit, the stomach lining gets inflamed, which causes nausea, vomiting, and gastroesophageal reflux.

Alcohol and increased stomach acid due to acid reflux may also irritate the mucous membrane in the throat, causing soreness.6 Besides a sore throat, consistent heavy drinking can lead to more serious health problems, including throat cancer.

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Home Remedies for Sore Throat From Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Antibiotics usually treat sore throats due to an infection. However, the treatment can differ if it’s due to alcohol consumption.

Here are various treatment options available to treat sore throat from excessive alcohol consumption:

Do a Saltwater Rinse

Rinsing with warm salt water can have a soothing effect on a sore throat. Saltwater kills bacteria and loosens the mucus membrane, relieving throat pain.7

Mix about one glass of warm water and half a tablespoon of salt to make your own. Then, gargle the saltwater in the back of your throat for 30 seconds. Doing this several times a day will help relieve the sore throat quicker.

Have Hot Soup

Chicken noodle soup is a typical remedy used to manage fevers and symptoms of a common cold, such as nasal congestion and sore throat.8

Hot soup offers similar benefits as hot lemon water or tea. In addition, hot soup containing vegetables or proteins soothes your sore throat and provides nutrients.9

Have Plenty of Rest

Alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to waking up fatigued. Besides feeling tired, you may get sick from having a compromised immune system. Getting enough rest and sleep helps your body manage the recovery process better.

If there is no underlying condition, healthy sleep schedules should be enough to treat a sore throat. You can also avoid drinking and talking too much for several days.

Drink Warm Lemon Water and Honey

Lemon water and honey, like saltwater, are suitable remedies for sore throat relief. Lemons help break up mucus and alleviate pain. They also contain a lot of Vitamin C, strengthening your immune system. Honey has antibacterial properties that can offer soothing effects for a sore throat.

Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice in a glass of warm water with honey and drink to make lemon water and honey.

Take Throat Lozenges

Over-the-counter lozenges often contain ingredients such as menthol or benzocaine, which can temporarily relieve sore throat pain. According to research, over-the-counter lozenges contain chemicals that may relieve pain in as little as 5 minutes.10  Its effects can last long after the lozenge has dissolved.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may help reduce swelling and throat irritation. They may also assist in relieving alcohol-induced headaches.

However, be careful about taking these or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) after alcohol use. These substances can exacerbate gastritis symptoms.

Drink Warm Tea

Peppermint tea has antibacterial properties that destroy bacteria causing a sore throat.11

Peppermint also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce irritation and swelling while soothing your throat. In addition, inhaling peppermint steam can treat sore throat symptoms, such as nasal congestion.

Consult your doctor before taking any herbal treatments since they can interfere with prescription drugs. They may also be unsafe for children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with certain health issues.

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When to See a Doctor for Sore Throat

Painful swallowing typically resolves a few days after taking alcohol. However, a persistent or recurring sore throat may require professional examination and treatment.

Seek medical attention if you experience the following: 

  • Painful swallowing or talking
  • Severe pain lasting for more than a week
  • White patches in the mouth and throat
  • Throat Inflammation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal drooling
  • High fever

Summary

Drinking can cause different effects on the body, such as increased urination or a weakened immune system. Getting a hangover from excessive drinking can lead to a sore throat caused by straining of the vocal cords or increased stomach acidity.

If a sore throat persists for more than a week, is accompanied by severe pain, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is essential to seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Updated on July 31, 2023
14 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol's Effects on the Body,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

  2. Strep throat,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2020.

  3. Hangovers,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021.

  4. Sore throat,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2021.

  5. Muscle Tension Dysphonia,” Duke University Health System, 2020.

  6. Haber, P., and Kortt, N. “Alcohol use disorder and the gut.” Addiction, 2021.

  7. Ramalingam et al.“A pilot, open labelled, randomised controlled trial of hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling for the common cold.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2019.

  8. Drayer, L. “Does chicken soup really help fight a cold?” Cable News Network, 2018.

  9. Rennard et al. “Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro,” CHEST Journal, 2000.

  10. McNally et al. “Rapid relief of acute sore throat with AMC/DCBA throat lozenges: randomised controlled trial,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2009.

  11. Ács et al.“Essential Oils and Their Vapors as Potential Antibacterial Agents against Respiratory Tract Pathogens,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2016.

  12. "Sulfite Sensitivity Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)"  Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. 2021.

  13. "Wheat Allergy" Mayo Clinic, 2022.

  14. "Alcohol Intolerance" Mayo Clinic, 2022.

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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