Many people suffer from a dry mouth (dry mouth, xerostomia). It is estimated that almost half of all people over 60 are affected by this condition. In most cases, a dry mouth is an unpleasant but harmless condition caused by tension or insufficient fluid intake. Sometimes, however, it can also be the expression of a more serious underlying disease.
Causes for a dry mouth
There are numerous causes for a dry mouth and most of them are often completely harmless. Common causes of dry mouth can be
- Talking at length
- Low fluid intake
- Increased loss of water (increased sweating, infections, medication)
- Sleeping with open mouth (snoring, when having a cold)
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating spicy food
- Side effect of many drugs
- Chemo/radiation therapy in the head and neck area
- Autoimmune diseases (Sjören syndrome or Hashimoto thyroiditis)
- Psychiatric diseases (depressions)
There are numerous drugs that can lead to dry mouth. Common remedies are: drugs that lower blood pressure, e.g.
some sedatives, hypnotics and spasmolytics antihistamines anticholinergic drugs antidepressants, neuroleptics, antiepileptic drugs antiemetics, i.e. drugs to treat nausea and vomiting chemotherapeutic drugs, cytostatics drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy
- Antihypertensive drugs, e.g. beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, some diuretics and calcium antagonists
- Painkillers (e.g.
- Parkinson drugs (e.g. dopamine agonists)
- Sedatives and sleeping pills, i.e. some sedatives, hypnotics and spasmolytics
- Antidepressants, neuroleptics, antiepileptics
- Antiemetics, i.e. drugs against nausea and vomiting
- Chemotherapeutics, cytostatics
- Drugs like cannabis, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy
Thyroid diseases can occur at any age and affect many people.
For example, it can be an autoimmune disease or iodine deficiency. In fact, the most common cause of an underactive thyroid gland is the so-called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland, which leads to destruction of the organ with loss of function.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism include numerous organs as well as the skin and mucous membranes. If the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, those affected suffer from pale, cool and dry skin. At the same time, the mucous membranes also dry out, so that patients with hypothyroidism often suffer from dry mouth.
These include diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus (diabetes). All types of diabetes can cause dry skin and mucous membranes as an accompanying or early symptom. This can manifest itself in the form of a dry mouth.
Especially in type 2 diabetes, a dry mouth can be observed as an early indication of diabetes. Diabetes insipidus is a form of diabetes associated with enormous urine excretion and severe thirst. This “water diabetes” can also cause dry skin and dry mouth in those affected.
In addition to the characteristic symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings, women can suffer from dry mouth, bad breath and dental problems during the menopause. The reason for this is due to changes in the hormone balance. The hormone estrogen has an influence on the salivary glands.As the oestrogen level drops during menopause, the activity of the salivary glands is reduced.
This leads to dryness of various mucous membranes. In addition to vaginal dryness, women often suffer from dryness of the mouth. A dry mouth typically occurs in the early stages, i.e. in the first three months of pregnancy.
This is the case even if the pregnant woman drinks more than usual. Humidifiers and repeated airing of the home can bring improvement. If the dry mouth occurs as part of pregnancy rhinitis because the nose is blocked, only home remedies should be used to improve the symptoms.
Nasal spray contains substances that cause the nasal mucous membrane to swell permanently during prolonged use. The positive effect of a free nose would therefore reverse itself after a short time. In addition, for the well-being of the child, one should refrain as far as possible from taking medication during pregnancy.
It is often suspected that a dry mouth is associated with gestational diabetes. However, this is not the case, as it is manifested by an increased feeling of thirst and sugar in the urine. Depressed people very often have a dry mouth with typical burning sensation.
This is one of the first symptoms of this clinical picture. If this symptom occurs together with other symptoms of depression, one should seek advice and treatment from a doctor. Furthermore, dry mouth can also be an expression of taking medication.
Especially medicines against depression, psychosis and anxiety can cause dry mouth. Some patients find this side effect very disturbing, so that another medicine must be tried. If a dry mouth occurs especially at night, this can be due to various causes.
Quite harmless, for example, is a stuffy nose in a cold or hay fever, which forces you to breathe through your mouth at night. This causes the mucous membranes of the mouth to dry out and one feels a dry mouth in the morning. Furthermore, sleep apnea (breathing stops as with snoring) or a crooked nasal septum can also be present.
In smokers, the blood supply to the mucous membranes is reduced, especially in the mouth area, which means that less saliva is produced there. Finally, the effects of drugs and alcohol must be pointed out. When consuming these drugs in the evening, the muscles relax, which leads to unconscious opening of the mouth at night. The mucous membranes dry out and one wakes up in the morning with an unpleasant feeling and taste.