Share on Pinterest
Marti Sans/Stocksy United

After a night of drinking, it’s not uncommon for a hangover to be accompanied by a sore throat and hoarse voice.

Alcohol can dry out your mouth and throat. When combined with a night of talking or yelling over loud music, this dryness can cause uncomfortable inflammation in your throat and vocal cords.

Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more often and increases the amount of water loss from your body. Overconsuming alcohol can lead to dehydration that can cause nausea and lightheadedness.

In this article, we’re going to examine the best treatment options for a sore throat after drinking — and look at ways you can prevent it from occurring in the first place.

A number of over-the-counter (OTC) options and home remedies may help you soothe your throat and vocal cords after a night of drinking. You likely already have everything you need for most of these remedies in your home.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water or other fluids can help you combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

Drinking can also cause electrolyte imbalances from increased urination. Consuming foods or drinks that contain sodium, potassium, and other essential minerals may also help replenish these electrolytes.

Nutrient-dense, whole foods, like dark leafy greens, avocados, and broccoli are the best source of electrolytes, but if your hangover is making it hard to eat solid foods, you can also try consuming a low-sugar sports drink, electrolyte supplements, or soup broth.

Rest

Getting plenty of rest gives your throat and vocal cords the opportunity to heal. If you were up late the night before, you may have gotten fewer hours of sleep than usual and sleep deprivation may be contributing to your fatigue.

Even if you did get a full night’s sleep, research has found heavy drinking reduces sleep quality in the later stages of sleep.

Saltwater rinse

Many people find gargling saltwater helps them soothe a sore throat.

To make a saltwater rinse, try mixing between one-quarter and half a teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water.

Take a sip of the water and gargle the water in the back of your throat for about 30 seconds. Repeat as needed.

Steam shower

Breathing in moisture from steamy air may help reduce irritation and pain in your throat. You can also try filling a sink with hot water and covering your head with a towel as you breathe in the warm air.

Throat lozenges

Sucking on lozenges, candies, or cough drops can stimulate saliva production that helps moisturize your throat.

Many OTC lozenges also contain ingredients such as hexylresorcinol, which have been found to provide relief for sore throats.

Warm drinks with honey

Many people find warm tea helps soothe their irritated throat. Many types of tea such as green tea or ginger tea also have anti-inflammatory properties that may help manage irritation.

Caffeine can have dehydrative effects, so if you want to drink green tea, you may want to use a non-caffeinated variety.

Honey has been a home remedy for sore throats and coughs for generations. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, but a 2013 study did find that it helped reduce throat pain after tonsillectomy surgery.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)

Over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium may help reduce swelling and inflammation in your throat. NSAIDs may also help relieve headaches caused by drinking.

The only sure way to avoid a hangover or any of its symptoms is to avoid drinking in the first place. Enjoying a night out with drinks doesn’t mean you’re doomed to spend the next day on the couch.

You can reduce your chances of developing a hangover by following these tips.

  • Drink in moderation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderation as one drink for women and two drinks in a single day for men.
  • Avoid drinks high in congeners. Congeners are byproducts of the fermentation process that have been linked to more severe hangover symptoms. Whiskey, tequila, and cognac are all high in congeners while vodka, gin, and rum contain low levels.
  • Sip on water throughout the night. Keeping a water bottle on hand can help keep your throat moist throughout the night and reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to consume one glass of water for each alcoholic drink you have.
  • Avoid loud clubs or bars. Having to talk over loud music can strain your vocal cords and leave your throat feeling sore and scratchy the next morning.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before. Fatigue from sleep deprivation can contribute to hangover symptoms. Getting adequate sleep the night before you go out can help ensure you’re well-rested in advance.

Many clubs and other places that serve alcohol also play loud music. Yelling, singing, or talking loudly can strain your vocal cords and leave you with a hoarse voice the next day.

If you’re somewhere particularly hot, or if you’re not drinking enough water, your mouth and throat can become dry even if you’re not drinking alcohol.

Your vocal cords are normally surrounded by a protective mucus, but if this mucus dries out, your vocal cords are at risk of becoming damaged.

Alcohol also weakens your immune system, which could make you more susceptible to developing a viral infection that leads to a sore throat.

The common cold and most types of influenza generally take at least 24 hours to cause symptoms after infection. It’s unlikely that you’ll develop symptoms the morning after drinking unless you already had the virus in your body.

Drinking alcohol may also cause flare-ups of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A common symptom of GERD is a sore throat.

Many people experience a sore throat and a hoarse voice when waking up with a hangover.

There are a couple of ways that you can relieve a sore throat, including getting rest, drinking tea, or taking lozenges. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest are two of the best strategies for reducing the symptoms of a hangover.

Drinking in moderation and staying hydrated during the night may help prevent a hangover before it starts.