what is a dry throat?


A dry throat is caused by the lack of mucus in the throat. This causes dry mucous membranes. This mucus is necessary to keep the mucous membranes flexible and moist. If the mucous membrane dries out, there may be a feeling of a dry throat. Often this feeling is at the level of the vocal cords, where someone may also have the tendency to swallow or scrape more often. There may also be a lump in the throat and a dry mouth. The complaint often disappears on its own. Nevertheless, long-term complaints can lead to anxiety.

Dry throat

what causes a dry throat?


A dry throat can have several causes, the most common being: Breathing too much through the mouth, snoring and overloading the voice.

Breathing too much through the mouth

Normally we breathe through the nose, which moistens the air. If someone breathes through the mouth too much, the mucous membranes dry out, causing a dry throat and mouth. Mouth breathing can also occur if you have a stuffy nose.


During snoring the mucous membrane in the throat flaps, creating vortices of air. These vortices can result in dry mucous membranes, giving the sensation of a dry throat.


When we swallow, talk and scrape, certain throat and neck muscles are tightened. The vocal cords are also controlled by muscles. Incorrect use of the voice can overload the neck muscles, causing a feeling of dryness in the throat. If you are less tense, the complaints often become less.

What to do about a dry throat?


It is possible to soothe a dry throat yourself by means of these measures:

  • Avoid alcohol, spicy food or carbonated drinks.
  • Drink regularly
  • Do not smoke. 
  • Sucking on a soda or licorice can relieve the symptoms of a dry throat.
  • Take some rest and do not overload the voice too much.

Treatment is often not necessary. Often it is enough to reassure people that there are no serious causes for a dry throat. The complaint often disappears gradually and by itself, with occasional returning dryness symptoms. It often disappears permanently after weeks to months.

Reducing tension
Tension and emotional problems can manifest themselves in various physical complaints such as a dry throat. Your GP can help put your problem into words and can call in another care provider if necessary.

Speech therapy
Speech therapy can sometimes be helpful in decreasing the complaint. You will then learn exercises that allow you to relax the throat and neck muscles better, which often results in less dry mucous membranes.


Which medicine helps for a dry throat?


Usually no medication is needed.

KNO Medisch Centrum dry throat

What possible conditions can cause a dry throat?


Although the chance is very small, there can also be other causes for a dry throat. Especially if, in addition to the feeling of dryness in the throat, other complaints also arise, such as difficulty swallowing, sore throat, earache or hoarseness. You can think of the following disorders:

Malignant tumor (throat cancer)
Fortunately, a malignant disease of the mucous membrane of the throat, larynx or esophagus is rare. If someone smokes for a long time or uses alcohol excessively, the chance of this is greatly increased. The complaints are often accompanied by a dry mouth, voice change, difficulty eating, weight loss and ear pain. An examination by an ENT specialist is necessary if the symptoms do not disappear within 6 weeks. A malignant tumor can usually be detected through this examination.

Allergy to house dust mite in particular, a component of house dust, usually leads to complaints of nasal congestion, but can also manifest itself in the throat, where it is a dry, itchy, or causes a lump feeling.

Disorder of the larynx
Sometimes there is a problem with the construction of the vocal cords, so that they sometimes do not close properly. This makes it more difficult to speak with a strong voice, so the voice is easily overloaded. In addition to a dry throat, people sometimes also complain about a hoarse voice or an insufficiently powerful voice.

A dry feeling in the throat can also be caused by gastric acid. Gastric acid can travel up the esophagus  and irritate the throat, causing a dry feeling. Your GP or ENT specialist can prescribe you a test treatment with gastric acid inhibitors if necessary.

Chronic infection of the throat (laryngitis)
If the mucous membrane in the throat is stimulated for a long time, a chronic infection of the throat can develop. Causes for this are: 
nasal and sinus problems, gastric acid, irritating substances or dry air.

The mucous membrane can also be chronically inflamed in certain diseases, such as diabetes and anemia. Complaints that may arise are: dry tickle in the throat, dry mucous membranes, burning, a sensitive spot in the trachea, persistent cough, tendency to scrape and difficulty swallowing. Coffee, smoking, alcohol perpetuate these complaints.

When to contact us?


If the dry feeling does not disappear or if complaints worsen, make an appointment with an ENT specialist. Sometimes there can be a physical cause for your complaints.

More information

Dutch Association for ENT Surgery

Lump in the throat
Voice problems in adults

Stomach liver gut foundation

Lump in the throat

Voice and swallowing center

Center for swallowing and passage complaints, extensive explanation about voice and swallowing problems.

This patient information has been compiled with the utmost care. It concerns general information. No rights can be derived from this information.
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