Is this cause for concern?
In hypersalivation, your salivary glands produce more saliva than usual. If the extra saliva begins to accumulate, it may begin to drip out of your mouth unintentionally.
In older children and adults, drooling may be a sign of an underling condition.
Hypersalivation may be temporary or chronic depending on the cause. For example, if you’re dealing with an infection, your mouth may produce more saliva to help flush out the bacteria. Hypersalivation usually stops once the infection has been successfully treated.
Constant hypersalivation (sialorrhea) often relates back to an underlying condition that affects muscle control. This may be a sign preceding diagnosis or a symptom that develops later on.
Keep reading to learn more about potential causes, symptom management, and more.
What causes this?
Temporary hypersalivation is usually caused by:
- gastroesophageal reflux
- certain tranquilizers and anticonvulsant drugs
- exposure to toxins, such as mercury
In these cases, hypersalivation typically goes away after treating the underlying condition.
Women who are pregnant typically see a decrease in symptoms after childbirth. Wondering what other symptoms you may experience during pregnancy? Look no further.
Constant hypersalivation is usually caused by chronic health conditions that affect muscle control. When you have impaired muscle control, it can affect your ability to swallow, leading to saliva buildup. This can result from:
- enlarged tongue
- intellectual disability
- cerebral palsy
- facial nerve palsy
- Parkinson’s disease
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
When the cause is chronic, symptom management is key. If left untreated, hypersalivation can affect your ability to speak clearly or swallow food and drink without choking.
How is this diagnosed?
Your doctor may be able to diagnose hypersalivation after discussing your symptoms. Testing may be required to determine the underlying cause.
After going over your medical history, your doctor may examine the inside of your mouth to look for other symptoms. These include:
- foul odor
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a chronic condition, your doctor may use a scale system to assess how severe your sialorrhea is. This can help your doctor determine which treatment options may be right for you.
What treatment options are available?
Your treatment plan will vary depending on the underlying cause. Although home remedies may be beneficial for temporary cases, chronic hypersalivation usually requires something more advanced.
If your doctor suspects a cavity or infection is at the root of your symptoms, they may refer you to a dentist. Your dentist will be able to give you information about proper dental and oral hygiene.
For example, regular brushing may help reduce gum inflammation and mouth irritation, which can cause drooling. Brushing can also have a drying effect on the mouth. You may also find it beneficial to follow up with an alcohol-based mouthwash for added effects.
Certain medications can help decrease saliva production.
Glycopyrrolate (Cuvposa) is a common option. This medication blocks nerve impulses to the salivary glands so that they produce less saliva.
However, this medication can have some severe side effects, including:
- dry mouth
- trouble urinating
- blurred vision
Scopolamine (Hyoscine) is another option. This is a skin patch that’s placed behind the ear. It works by blocking nerve impulses to the salivary glands. Its side effects include:
- rapid heartbeat
- trouble urinating
- blurred vision
Your doctor may recommend botulinum toxin (Botox) injections if your hypersalivation is constant. Your doctor will inject the drug into one or more of the major salivary glands. The toxin paralyzes the nerves and muscles in the area, preventing the glands from producing saliva.
This effect will wear off after a couple of months, so you will likely need to return for repeat injections.
In severe cases, this condition can be treated with surgery on the major salivary glands. Your doctor may recommend that the glands be removed completely or relocated so that the saliva is released in the back of the mouth where it can be easily swallowed.
If surgery isn’t an option, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy on the major salivary glands. The radiation causes dry mouth, relieving the hypersalivation.
Your doctor is your best resource for information about your symptoms and how to manage them. Depending on the cause, hypersalivation may resolve with treatment or require close management over time.
In severe cases, a speech therapist may be beneficial. They can work with you to help reduce your risk for complications and minimize symptoms.
It’s important to remember that this condition is common, and that you aren’t alone in your experience. Talking to your loved ones about your condition and its impact can help those around you better understand what you’re experiencing and how they can support you.