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Most of us have experienced a dry mouth at some point in our lives – after a long workout, before a nerve-wracking job interview, before exams, while trekking through the desert or mountains after severely underestimating how much water you should have brought, to name a few. But, while these are normal physiological responses to temporary situations, there are some people who suffer from a chronically dry mouth, known in the medical world as xerostomia. Saliva plays an important role in the mouth and not just for comfort. A healthy production of saliva contributes to cleansing the mouth, digestion of food, speech, chewing and swallowing, and keeps bacteria and fungi at bay. Chronic xerostomia as a result of hyposalivation (an inadequate production of saliva) can have a significant impact on the quality of life for many people, particularly the elderly, who are more likely to experience a dry mouth. Women are also more likely than men to suffer from xerostomia.

Apart from the obvious (that is, the mouth feeling dry), other symptoms of dry mouth can include:

  • Sore throat

  • Constant thirst

  • Hoarse voice

  • Headaches

  • Dry eyes, nasal passages, and/or skin

  • Cracked, dry lips

  • Burning sensation in the mouth

  • Difficulties in chewing and swallowing food, or needing to sip fluids in order to eat dry foods comfortably

  • Changes to taste sensation

  • Bad breath, also known as halitosis

People who suffer from xerostomia may also find themselves more prone to dental problems, such as tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease).

What Causes a Dry Mouth?

In itself, a dry mouth is not a disease and may be due to something as simple as cigarette smoking or constant breathing through the mouth, but can also often be a result of other more serious underlying conditions or other external factors. Several systemic diseases are known to present with xerostomia as a symptom.

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A significant one is an autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s syndrome. Other conditions associated with xerostomia include hypertension, asthma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatic diseases, and eating disorders. Certain medications can contribute to low saliva production and a dry mouth, too, known as xerogenic medications. These can be either over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as anti-psychotics and anti-depressants (particularly those from the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), oral diabetes medications, diuretics used to treat hypertension, and antihistamines or decongestants commonly used for allergies and colds. There are also medical procedures, such as radiation therapy to the head and neck area, or chemotherapy, that can induce hyposalivation and xerostomia, primarily through damage to the salivary glands as an unavoidable side effect.

Top 5 Home Remedies for Dry Mouth

Identifying any underlying contributing factors to your dry mouth problems will play an important role in guiding an effective management plan. If you suspect any of your medications may be causing your mouth to dry out, speaking with your ENT specialist, can help to find another suitable alternative that is less likely to cause hyposalivation.

There are also several easy home remedies to consider that can help to alleviate a dry mouth.

  1. Drink more water or suck on ice cubes

  2. Avoid or reduce intake of drying substances caffeine, alcohol & tobacco

  3. Breathe through your nose instead of mouth – see your ENT doctor, if you suffer difficulties with nose breathing as this can be a symptom of another issue such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps etc

  4. Use a humidifier in the room, particularly at night during sleep

  5. Consider products that are designed for a dry mouth, such as sugar-free chewing gums, mouth sprays, or mouthwashes that can help to substitute saliva or stimulate production

Xerostomia and hyposalivation can be severe enough to cause anxiety in some. If these home remedies are insufficient at managing your dry mouth to a comfortable level, consult your ENT doctor.

KEYWORDS: Dry Mouth, Xerostomia , Saliva, Chronic Xerostomia, Hyposalivation, Sore Throat, Constant Thirst, Hoarse Voice, Halitosis, Tooth Decay, Gingivitis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, Rheumatic Diseases, Anti-Psychotics, Anti-Depressants, Deviated Septum, Nasal Polyps.

For further queries about the infections, diseases, and treatments of the ear, nose or throat, Dr Mohanty’s Speciality ENT Clinics in Chennai, India can help in a number of ways,

Dr Mohanty’s Speciality ENT Clinics

Manapakkam, Chennai, India.

For Consultation: +91 97910 74677

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