What causes dry throat?

Dry throat is a very common condition that is often caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The MediFind Medical Team has summarized 10 potential causes of dry throat below in order from most likely to less likely based on our data. Learn more about how MediFind works here. You can also enter your symptoms into MediFind’s Symptom Checker to receive more customized results.

Common Cold

The common cold is one of the most frequent viral infections. Most cases of the common cold pass within one to two weeks. Symptoms of the common cold may include runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and dry or scratchy throat. The common cold is treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever or seasonal allergies is a common allergic reaction. Allergic rhinitis can be caused by allergens such as plant pollen, pet dander, or dust. Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, or dry throat. Allergic rhinitis is treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.


COVID-19 is a common respiratory condition that causes a variety of symptoms. Many people experience fever, coughing, dry or sore throat, and shortness of breath, however some symptoms may be more extreme and possibly life-threatening. Older adults and those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk. COVID-19 is usually treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.


The flu is a common infection caused by the influenza virus. Flu spreads easily and symptoms often develop very quickly. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, nausea and vomiting, and dry or sore throat. Flu is treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a common infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat spreads quickly, and common symptoms include a sudden fever, chills, dry throat, and swollen neck glands. Strep throat is usually treated by an ENT. Find an ENT near you here.


Mononucleosis is an infection that is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Mononucleosis can be spread by saliva and is often called “the kissing disease.” Individuals with mononucleosis may experience fatigue, headache, a sore or dry throat, and painful lymph nodes in the neck. Mononucleosis is usually treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.


Dehydration occurs when a person is not drinking as much water as their body needs. Most cases of dehydration are mild, however some cases can have much more severe effects. Symptoms of dehydration may include dry mouth and throat, infrequent urination, headaches, or muscle cramps. Dehydration is treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing stops during sleep. Loud snoring is the most common sign of sleep apnea, but individuals may also notice excessive fatigue or dry throat. Sleep apnea is treated by a sleep medicine doctor. Find a sleep medicine doctor near you here.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach contents move backwards through the stomach into the esophagus. GERD can irritate the throat and commonly causes heartburn, coughing or wheezing, and sore or dry throat. GERD is usually treated by a gastroenterologist. Find a gastroenterologist near you here.

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer is a type of cancer that affects the voice box, vocal cords, or other areas of the throat. People who regularly smoke or drink alcohol have an increased risk of developing throat cancer. Common symptoms of throat cancer include a cough, difficulty swallowing, dry or hoarse throat, and swelling or lumps in the neck. Throat cancer is treated by an oncologist. Find an oncologist near you here.

Understanding the Results

These results are based on the most likely conditions for a 45 year old woman who is not pregnant, and is living in the United States. Our data shows that 96% of the time, this symptom is related to one of the 10 most likely causes. Location and age can also contribute to different results. Use our Symptom Checker to add your information and get your custom results.

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Differences in Age Groups

The majority of conditions that cause dry throat can affect people of all ages. However, viral infections such as the flu or common cold spread very quickly and are particularly common in children and teenagers.

Differences among Men and Women

Conditions that cause dry throat generally affect men and women equally.

Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Published By: MediFind Medical Staff