There are a lot of things that can cause dry eyes and mouth — but not many that cause these two symptoms at the same time. If you have concurrent dry eyes and mouth, this may help narrow down a diagnosis.
While these symptoms may be a sign of a few serious conditions including Sjögren’s syndrome, they are unlikely to lead to a medical emergency. Keep reading to learn more.
Dry mouth and dry eyes can be caused separately by a long list of medical conditions, environmental factors, medications, and even lifestyle choices. But when they happen together and for a single cause, there are fewer possibilities.
Sjögren’s syndrome (pronounced as “show grins”) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the glands that produce both saliva and tears. This chronic condition reduces your body’s ability to make moisture, and it can occur on its own or with other diseases.
There is no cure for this condition, but there are treatments that can help with symptom relief, like eye drops. A doctor may also prescribe medications to help suppress your immune system, mouth moisturizing spray, as well as diet and lifestyle changes.
Lupus is another autoimmune condition that can cause dry eyes and mouth. It can occur in spurts with periods of remission. The condition can cause inflammation throughout the body and occur with other symptoms like:
- joint and body pain
Like Sjögren’s syndrome, this is a chronic condition with no cure, but symptoms can be managed with immunosuppressants and medications to reduce inflammation.
Kidney disease treatment
The kidneys play a big role in regulating fluid and electrolyte balance in your body, so problems with your kidneys can lead to problems with your body’s hydration. People who have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure who need to be treated with hemodialysis often have symptoms related to dryness, including a dry mouth and dry eyes. This is less of a condition caused by kidney disease and more of a symptom of treatment.
Diabetes develops when your body doesn’t use insulin correctly. Insulin allows your cells to use sugar — a primary energy source — but people with the condition either don’t make insulin or their body doesn’t respond to it.
When this happens, sugar begins to build up in your blood, and as your blood glucose levels rise, your kidneys work overtime to remove the extra sugar and fluid. This can lead to severe dehydration. One of the first symptoms of diabetes is excessive thirst. This dehydration can also lead to dry eyes and mouth.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that develops either as an autoimmune disorder or because of diet and lifestyle. There is no cure, and strict blood sugar control is the best way to control the condition and avoid more severe complications.
Intestinal or metabolic disorders
Several conditions affect the intestines and your digestion that could result in problems like chronic diarrhea. Inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease) and irritable bowel syndrome can cause chronic diarrhea. Microscopic colitis can cause chronic diarrhea that can subsequently lead to ongoing dehydration. When this happens, you could experience dryness of all kinds, including in your eyes and mouth.
Thyroid disease, like other hormone fluctuations, can cause dry mouth and dry eyes. The thyroid is a gland that helps regulate hormones in your body. When you have thyroid disease, this gland malfunctions and you end up with too much or too little of these hormones, resulting in a wide range of symptoms.
Thyroid disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that isn’t curable but can be managed with medication to regulate your hormone levels.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune form of arthritis that can cause swelling and inflammation. This can lead to redness or dryness in your eyes and even your mouth. This condition can’t be cured, but may be treated with immunosuppressant medications. Physical therapy and lifestyle changes may also help you cope with symptoms.
There are some situations or conditions that aren’t chronic or necessarily serious but can still cause you temporary or repeated episodes of dry mouth and dry eyes.
Dry mouth and eyes when waking up
If you have dry eyes and dry mouth when you wake up in the morning, the culprit can be environmental. Check your sleeping area for drafts, fans, and other irritants that could be drying out your airways and eyes overnight. You may also wake up with dry eyes or mouth if you have allergies, take certain medications, or sleep with your mouth open.
Dry eyes and mouth at night
If you suffer from dry eyes and mouth at night, you will first want to check your sleeping area for drafts and irritants. Mouth breathing, allergies, and even certain medications can cause dryness. You may also have dry eyes if you wear contacts during the day or if you spend a lot of time in front of computer screens.
Dry eyes, nose, and mouth
Dryness in your mucous membranes like the eyes, nose, and mouth can be caused by many things, but allergies and medications are a common cause. Some medications that can increase dryness, especially in the eyes, nose, and mouth include:
Dry eyes and mouth during menopause
Like with thyroid disease, hormone changes can lead to dry mouth and eyes. Menopause is one of these changes. Not everyone has these symptoms, and they aren’t always permanent, but they are common.
Concurrent anxiety, dry eyes, and mouth
Dry mouth and eyes also occur with overdoses or poisonings. This is usually caused by the effect of the chemical or medication to which you were exposed.
Treatment for dry mouth and dry eyes can be relieved with hydration, by drinking fluids or using eye drops. However, this really only helps when dry eyes and mouth are isolated problems. If they are symptoms of a bigger issue — like Sjögren’s syndrome — treating the underlying condition is key, but symptom relief can still help.
Dry mouth and eyes aren’t usually a serious problem on their own, but if they appear with other symptoms or continue despite symptom management, it might be time to see a doctor. They could be the result of isolated problems with your eyes or mouth, or the result of a more serious chronic condition.
There are many things that can cause dry mouth and eyes. These causes might not be connected, but in some cases they can be a sign of a more serious or chronic condition. If you’ve already tried eye drops and rehydration, you may want to see a doctor to discuss your symptoms.