Saliva Quantity

What Causes Dry Mouth Or Excess Saliva?

Dry mouth or excess saliva can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose dry mouth or excess saliva, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "dry mouth or excess saliva" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Dehydration
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Drug Side-Effects
  • Chemotherapy Side-Effects
  • Tendency Toward Allergic Reactions
  • HIV/AIDS

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
African ethnicity
dizziness when standing up
history of candidiasis
irritated eyes
indoor allergies
allergies to certain foods
having elevated melatonin levels
increased sensitivity to touch
numb/burning/tingling extremities
frequent swollen cervical nodes
having had very many sexual partners
high systolic blood pressure
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of dry mouth or excess saliva:
Cause Probability Status
Dehydration 90% Confirm
Cystic Fibrosis 30% Unlikely
Drug Side-Effects 13% Unlikely
Sjogren's Syndrome 2% Ruled out
HIV/AIDS 1% Ruled out
Alzheimer's Disease 0% Ruled out
Tendency Toward Allergic Reactions 0% Ruled out
Chemotherapy Side-Effects 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Mouth/Oral Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about saliva quantity:
In general, how plentiful is the saliva in your mouth?
Possible responses:
→ My mouth is often very dry
→ My mouth is sometimes a bit dry
→ Normal / don't know
→ I always have plenty of saliva
→ Excess saliva, with a tendency to drool
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate very dry mouth, dry mouth, abundant saliva in mouth or excess saliva in mouth, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
(Prescription) Drug Side-Effects

Hundreds of drugs list dry mouth as a possible side-effect.  Antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants are among the drugs that can cause dry mouth.

Chemotherapy Side-Effects

Radiation can damage the salivary glands and reduce the amount of saliva produced.

Cigarette Smoke Damage

Smoking or chewing tobacco can reduce saliva production.

Sjogren's Syndrome

In cases of Sjogren's syndrome, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks tear ducts and saliva glands, leading to chronically dry eyes and dry mouth (xerostomia).

... and also rule out issues such as:
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