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Hypersalivation can make your mouth spill out saliva from the bottom lip, something that we refer to as drooling. Depending on the reason, hypersalivation can be permanent or temporary in nature. Identifying the underlying cause is the best possible treatment that can be offered to patients facing this issue.
What Is Hypersalivation?
Although not a disease, hypersalivation is treated as a sign of some kind of an underlying condition. These are usually common ailments that can be easily treated.
Saliva appears as a clear liquid and is produced in our mouth by the salivary glands. Saliva aids us in swallowing by moistening the food that we chew. The presence of enzymes in the saliva helps in digestion.
It also works as a means of removing germs from the mouth. It also aids in the healing of wounds. It acts as a barrier against toxins and irritants. Saliva prevents dryness of the mouth.
Saliva production for a healthy person, on an average is about 0.75 L to 1.5 L. Saliva production is at its peak when we eat and it's at its lowest when we sleep.
You might find it difficult to talk and eat if you are producing too much saliva. Hypersalivation can also cause skin infections and chapped lips. Drooling can lead to you having a low self-esteem in public.
Causes Of Hypersalivation
The following are the primary causes of excessive saliva production:
Morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy can cause excess saliva production. The pregnancy hormones can affect how your salivary glands work.
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease:
Constant reflux inflames the oesophageal lining. This triggers hypersalivation. In such cases, it is particularly called a water brash. The saliva produced in the mouth is either tasteless or something which is kind of a sour fluid.
• Excessive starch intake:
Eating a diet rich in starch increases your body's saliva production.
This is one such ailment that can cause the dysfunctionality of the salivary glands. Drinking excess amounts of alcohol over a period of several years causes pancreatitis.
• Oral ulcers:
It is natural to salivate more when there is a pain in the mouth. So, in case of painful oral ulcers, there tends to be hypersalivation. The symptoms of such ulcers usually are a tingling feeling followed by a red bump that looks like an ulcer.
• Liver disease
The secretion of saliva is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. A liver disease can trigger the production of excess saliva.
• Oral infections:
Oral inflammation can lead to excess saliva secretion. Oral infections such as tonsillitis can cause hypersalivation. Oral infections can also be in the form of a viral infection such as oral herpes. This causes fever blisters and cold sores around the mouth region.
• Serotonin syndrome:
This is a life-threatening ailment which is characterized by excessive serotonergic activity in the nervous system. In this condition, the patient faces mental status changes, neuromuscular hyperactivity and autonomic instability. In patients with such neurological symptoms, hypersalivation is quite common.
How Is Hypersalivation Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is important so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated. In some rare cases, potential causes of excess saliva production can indicate serious health complications. The following would be examined by your doctor to determine hypersalivation:
• Your teeth, mouth and the surrounding skin
• Your swallowing ability, tongue control and jaw stability
• Your nasal airways
• Your tonsils
• Presence of hydration and hunger
• Head posture
• Your alertness and emotional state
Your doctor would also ask you a few other details, some of which are mentioned below.
• The duration and time when hypersalivation is most likely to occur
• Existing medication, if any
• The amount of extra saliva that is produced
• The ailment being constant or intermittent
• Adverse effects of hypersalivation on daily life
Once the cause of hypersalivation has been identified, your doctor would take into consideration certain factors, as stated below, before finalizing a treatment for you.
• Mental status and age of the patient
• Complications and severity of the ailment
• Possibility and scope for improvement
• Neurological conditions, if any
• Chronic or temporary hypersalivation
How Is Hypersalivation Treated?
The underlying condition needs to be treated. Depending on the condition, the treatment could include any of the following:
• Therapy: Involves speech therapy and behavioural modification.
• Medication: Anticholinergic medication can be prescribed to reduce saliva production.
• Home remedies: Drinking plenty of water is effective in reducing saliva production. Rinsing the mouth using a mouthwash helps in keeping the mouth dry temporarily.
An effective treatment of hypersalivation involves administration of botulinum toxins into the salivary glands. In some rare and extreme cases, surgery might be the last and only option to treat the underlying cause behind hypersalivation.