An ear, nose and throat doctor explains why exercise such as running can cause a sore throat and how to solve this problem.

For this article I consulted with Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.

Dr. Silvers first points out that a sore throat from exercising has two main causes: nasal obstruction and acid reflux.

“Poor flow of air through the nose makes it harder to oxygenate especially during a workout,” she explains.

“We are inclined to open our mouths to breathe better.  This however can make the throat dry, and for some people the throat can get sore, as the dry air can be irritating.

“The mouth is meant to eat through and talk through.  We are obligated nose breathers and our nose is our air filter and air moisturizer.

“The causes of nasal obstruction are congestion and a deviated septum. Most of us have an element of both and some more extreme than others.”

What can be done about a sore throat caused by exercise? 

“In most cases conservative medical management like saline nasal washes and nasal steroid sprays can improve nasal breathing,” says Dr. Silvers.

“If not, then some are candidates for a simple surgical option to open the nasal airway.   Many people have acid reflux and are not aware of it.

Silent reflux can cause chronic sore throats, hoarseness and clearing of the throat.

Working out soon before you digest your food can allow acid into the back of the throat as you jump around, and cause pain in the throat.

“Many of us make thick protective mucous to coat the throat and protect from the acid, but some of us don’t have enough, and throat soreness is a result.

“Try waiting three hours after eating for your workout and cut down on highly acidic foods.  If this is not enough you can try an OTC reflux pill one hour prior to exercise.”

If you continue to experience a sore throat that seems to be caused by exercising, despite implementing these measures, than see an ear, nose and throat physician.

stacey silvers, MD

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology from 2003-2012.