Why Does My Sore Throat Get Worse At Night

What is a sore throat?

During the seasonal transitions, especially in the colder months, it is common for us to experience some sort of sore throat. A sore throat is a painful, itchy or irritated  throat.which This’ condition usually resolves within a week of the onset of symptoms.

It can be caused by smoking, a bacteria, or common cold or flu viruses,. Other viral illnesses that can cause a sore throat are mononucleosis, measles, chickenpox, COVID-2019 and coup. In the case of bacteria, the most common bacterial infection is Streptococcus pyogenes, causing the strep throat.

There are other causes for a sore throat which include: allergies, dryness, irritants, muscle strain, gastroesophageal reflux, HIV infection, or some types of cancer.

What causes a sore throat at night?

A sore throat at night can be caused by several factors, which can increase the pain or make it occur only during night time. 


  • A painful throat, which worsens when swallowing or talking
  • Scratchy throat
  • Mild cough 
  • Swollen neck glands

Other symptoms and signs from an infection causing the sore throat can also include:

  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

Why does my sore throat get worse at night

Sometimes a sore throat becomes worse at night. This may be due to the exposure to different substances, which are called allergens. This can lead to increased scratchiness or painful throat at night. 

Other times it can be that during the night the perception of pain can increase due to an increased attention and silence around you before going to sleep.

Moreover, during sleep, if you suffer from snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, this can cause your throat to get dry causing discomfort and pain.

What to avoid at night to prevent sore throat?

Depending on the cause of your sore throat, there can be a few things you can do at night to prevent it. For example, during winter times the air can get particularly dry with the use of heaters. A way to reduce this is to have an environmental humidifier to increase the humidity in the air. Over the counter sinus, allergy or cold medications can help.

During sleep,  we go several hours without drinking water, and this can make us prone to dehydration and a sore throat. To counteract this, avoid eating a salty meal before bedtime, sleep with a glass of water by the bed, and take sips when waking up.

Another way to reduce or prevent your sore throat can be to reduce your exposure to allergens. This can be done by:

  • Investing in hypoallergenic pillows and bedding
  • Avoid using sleep sprays and perfumes, which may irritate the throat
  • Sleep with the window closed 
  • Clear clutter from around the bed to reduce dust
  • Fitting wooden floors rather than carpets
  • Prevent mold by ventilating the home during the day

As snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can cause a sore throat, you can reduce snoring and OSA by avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and not sleeping on your back.

Finally, there are other ways to prevent a sore throat by staying healthy, which include:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people who have sore throats or upper respiratory infections
  • Avoid smoking

How to treat a sore throat at night

The way to treat a sore throat at night depends on the underlying cause. This can be through over-the- counter medications to reduce throat pain, fever, dry throat, or prescribed antibiotics in the case of a bacterial infection, or taking preventative steps to reduce allergens surrounding the room and bed.

Treatment and home remedies

If the discomfort of a sore throat requires pain relief, a pharmacist can help with medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, medicated lozenges which usually contain local anesthetic, antiseptic or other forms of anti-inflammatory medicine. There is not enough evidence to prove that throat sprays are effective in the treatment of  sore throat.

Home remedies:

  • Gargle with warm, salty water (children or people with respiratory problems are not advised not try this)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat warm or soft foods
  • Avoid smoking or smoky places
  • Rest

When to see a doctor?

A sore throat tends to resolve itself within a week. Nonetheless, you should see a doctor in case any of the following occurs:

  • If it does not improve after a week
  • If you have frequently recurring throat pain 
  • If it is accompanied by a fever 
  • If you have any other diseases that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes
  • If you have other associated problems such as difficulty swallowing, breathing opening your mouth, joint pain, earache, rash, or blood in saliva


To summarize, a sore throat is uncomfortable and can make sleep difficult at night. There are several factors that can cause or worsen a sore throat, such as allergies, dry air,or vocal strain, which can be managed with home remedies and over-the-counter medications. If it’s due to an infection, antibiotics, antivirals, or steroids can relieve your symptoms after visiting your doctor. 

Sore throat may develop during the night  or other conditions may cause an existing sore throat to worsen at night. 

Usually a sore throat tends to resolve within a week. If your symptoms persist more than a week,  worsen, or other symptoms are present, follow up with your doctor to diagnose and provide appropriate treatment.


  1. NHS England. Sore throat [Internet]. 2021 [2022]. Available from:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-throat/
  2. Mayo Clinic. Sore throat [Internet]. Year [2022]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635
  3. Healthline media. Why do I have a sore throat at night? [Internet]. 2018 [2022]. Available from:  https://www.healthline.com/health/sore-throat-at-night#outlook
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sore throat [Internet]. 2021 [2022]. Available from: URLhttps://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sore-throat.html
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Aryana Zardkoohi

Master's degree, Tropical disease biology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Aryana completed a degree in microbiology and clinical chemistry and an MSc in Molecular Biology of Parasites and Vectors. She has several years of experience working as clinical microbiologist at hospitals, and in public health research of tropical diseases.
She is currently undertaking a PhD studying the effects of plant carbohydrates on human gut health.

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