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):
  • Diabetes II
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Chemotherapy Side-Effects
  • Mumps

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:
recent onset neck pain
current atypical headaches
multiple painful cervical nodes
very dry eyes
prednisone use
joint pain/swelling/stiffness
weak appetite
dry nose
low lymphocyte count
high systolic blood pressure
recent light tobacco smoking
type 2 diabetes IDD
... 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
HIV/AIDS 97% Confirm
Alzheimer's Disease 18% Unlikely
Mumps 18% Unlikely
Sjogren's Syndrome 5% Ruled out
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 5% Ruled out
Diabetes II 5% Ruled out
Cigarette Smoke Damage 5% 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.  Those taking two different medications are up to 40% more likely to suffer from dry mouth.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's patients may have a diminished thirst signal so they don't feel thirsty and drink water when they are dehydrated.  In addition, dry mouth is very common among seniors and those with Alzheimer's may not tell anyone that they are thirsty due to reduced mental functioning.

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.

Dehydration

The body will conserve fluid in various ways when we are dehydrated and one of these is a reduction in saliva production, which results in a drier mouth.

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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