Feeling like a dry desert in the mouth everyday? Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, can be the issue. Below are some xerostomia causes, so take a look at all the riggers of dry mouth.
Most of us have had the feeling of a dry parched land in the mouth, but a quick gargle and pouring lots of liquid is the most convenient way of fixing it. This is in a normal scenario. What would you do if dry mouth was a regular visitor? Well, this condition sure needs some thought. Most people complain of dryness in the mouth that does not go away for days. They also complain of other issues like difficulty in eating and swallowing, etc., along with a dry mouth.
What one must know is that, this condition of dryness with other symptoms is not a casual issue. This condition is medically termed as xerostomia, meaning dry mouth. It is also called the dry mouth syndrome, cottonmouth, pasties or drooth. It is caused by absence or low production of saliva in the mouth. It is important to know that xerostomia is not a disease, but it may be a symptom for many underlying conditions.
Saliva is an important substance that helps in various functions in the mouth. It is one secretion that helps you swallow and chew food, it also protects the gums and teeth from decay and cavities by balancing the pH of the mouth. Dry mouth is usually associated with age, but younger people have also been victims of this condition. Since xerostomia can result in dental and other complications along with being a symptom to diseases, it is important to be aware of the facts, and not ignore a dry mouth. In this article, we will discuss the major causes and symptoms of xerostomia.
As the name suggests, the symptom will typically be dryness in the mouth. Along with mouth dryness, difficulty to speak and swallow, bad breath, tooth and gum concerns, and a sore throat can also be experienced. In xerostomia, the saliva will be increasingly thick and stringy, you may also have cracked and dry lips. One may also complain of a taste disorder (Dysgeusia) and a painful tongue.
Temporary dryness in the mouth will usually be caused during certain times when we are really frightened or tensed and anxious, and also with aging, waking up in the morning with a dry mouth is common. Many individuals also experience dry mouth at night. In cases of fever, diarrhea, sweating, vomiting, etc., temporary dry mouth will be experienced. If you do not fall in the above bracket of concerns, check the list below that gives you some detailed causes.
Medications and Therapy
A major cause of dry mouth is medicines. It is observed that certain drugs like muscle relaxants, antidepressants, analgesics, diuretics, etc., and many other over-the-counter drugs too cause dryness of the mouth. Therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer treatment cause dry mouth. This is due to the radiation to the head, neck and surrounding regions. This radiation affects the serous secretory cells, hence affecting the production of saliva.
Diseases and Disorders
There are several auto immune diseases that can cause xerostomia. These include Sjogren’s Syndrome and HIV. Other diseases like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, nephritis, endocrine disorders, anxiety disorders, stroke, thyroid dysfunction, etc., can trigger a dry mouth problem. Some of the chronic inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis and amyloidosis also result in xerostomia. Studies believe that these diseases affect the saliva producing cells in the body, resulting in a dry mouth.
Certain neurological diseases like Bell’s palsy and cerebral palsy also cause a dry mouth. Any trauma or injury to the nerves that carry signals to the mouth can damage the salivary glands and cause less saliva secretion. Conditions that are described as hyposecretory like atrophic gastritis, pancreatic insufficiency, and biliary cirrhosis, can cause xerostomia.
Stress and Others
A dry mouth will also occur as a result of depleted water levels in the body. Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration due to less intake of water and also due to diseases like diarrhea, polyurea, etc., can result in dryness in the mouth. Chewing tobacco and smoking are also one of the major causes. Age is also considered one cause for dry mouth.
As you age, the saliva production gets affected. Also, medications that pile up with aging, makes one more prone to the dry mouth syndrome with age. Stress and other psychological factors like emotional trauma, anxiety, fear, etc., can cause dry mouth symptoms. It is observed that the hormonal changes in women during menopause and pregnancy can also lead to this condition. Hyperventilation and dry climates, and breathing through the mouth are other known causes.
The treatment usually depends on the exact cause of the dry mouth. For all deficiencies and lifestyle related issues like alcohol, smoking and chewing tobacco, one must decrease or stop following these habits. Home remedies will include, staying hydrated, chewing gum (it enhances saliva flow), avoiding caffeine and fizzy drinks, etc. Using a humidifier for dry conditions and breathing through the nose and not the mouth can also help. Herbal remedies like ginger, chamomile and green tea are known to reduce dryness of the mouth.
Some medicinal options also include over-the-counter products. Using mouth washes, gels and even toothpastes that are specially made for minimizing dry mouth symptoms can be used. There are also certain products that your doctor may advise like saliva substitutes and stimulants that may moisten the dry mouth. An appointment with the dentist can help in more serious concerns of dry mouth.
We know dry mouth is not a rare issue, but a consistent dryness in the mouth is sure worth more than just home remedies. Get help from a medical expert to treat mouth dryness, and yes, by that we mean tackle xerostomia!