What are the Most Common Causes of a Dry Throat and Mouth?

Brandon May

The common causes of dry throat and mouth are usually related to lifestyle behaviors or are the result of a side effect from prescription medications or medical procedures. A dry throat can usually cause a scratchy, uncomfortable feeling, which makes swallowing food or liquid a difficult process and in turn can result in malnourishment and dehydration if left untreated. Dry mouth is normally caused by dehydration, either due to lifestyle or through the inability to swallow liquids. It is very common for a dry throat and mouth to occur simultaneously, as both conditions have a powerful influence over each other.

Dehydration is a common cause of a dry throat and mouth.
Dehydration is a common cause of a dry throat and mouth.

The throat and mouth need saliva in order to pre-digest food particles and help them transit into the body. Without saliva, however, it becomes very difficult for the body to digest and assimilate nutrients, and it can disrupt the process of moving food through the throat easily. One of the most common causes of dry throat and mouth is usually brought on by dehydration, which can stem from poor lifestyle habits or the inability to obtain drinking water. Not only can dehydration result in a dry throat and mouth, but it can also lead to the feeling of a scratchy throat over time, which makes it difficult for an individual to consume any liquid which might reverse dehydration.

Dry throat can be a symptom of an underlying illness.
Dry throat can be a symptom of an underlying illness.

Other lifestyle habits like smoking and using tobacco can contribute to a dry mouth and throat over time. Often these symptoms can be reversed following the abstinence of such substances, yet it depends on the severity of the dryness and how long the substances were used. When one experiences a severe case of dry throat and mouth, it can feel as though the mouth is sore or swollen. Some medical therapies such as prescription drugs can help ease or even cure these symptoms, depending on their severity.

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If a dry throat occurs and is left untreated, an individual may be prone to suffering from malnutrition due to pain associated with food intake. If dehydration is the main cause of either a dry mouth or throat, then slowly adding liquids may help in reversing the dryness and soreness. Often a doctor will prescribe medications that will help treat more severe types of dry mouth and throat, as well as instructing the patient to drink more fluids. Looking at current prescriptions to determine if the dry mouth and throat is a side effect can also help, as well as breathing through the nose to avoid drying out the mouth and the throat even further.

A crossection of the human head, including the throat.
A crossection of the human head, including the throat.

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Discussion Comments


@ZipLine-- Have you been drinking more water than usual lately and still have dry throat and mouth?

If so, I highly recommend that you get a blood glucose tolerance test for diabetes. I had these exact symptoms when I went to see my doctor two years ago. I had a three hour glucose tolerance test done and was diagnosed with diabetes. The symptoms disappeared after I started taking diabetes medication.


@ZipLine-- Have you seen a doctor? You probably should do that if the symptoms don't go away soon.

Do you feel fatigue or throat pain? You might be getting a cold or the flu. If you have sneezing or watery eyes, it could be allergies. It could even be the medications that you're taking. Many medications cause dry throat and mouth as a side effect.

I work in sales and I have to talk a lot everyday. Overexertion is another cause of dry throat and mouth. After a long day at work, my mouth feels parched and my throat is sore.

I've been gargling with warm, salt water every night which has helped. Chamomile tea is another good dry mouth remedy. I usually drink couple of cups a day.


I don't smoke and I drink a lot of water but my throat and mouth have been feeling very dry for the past week. I keep on sipping water and I use cough drops but it's not working. What could be the cause? Does anyone know a good dry throat and mouth remedy?

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