So-called hypersalivation is a mostly temporary disease in which too much saliva is produced. The causes for this are varied and can range from serious neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s to poor nutrition. In most cases, however, hypersalivation is easily treatable.
What is hypersalivation?
Hypersalivation is primarily characterized by excessive production of saliva.
The medical term hypersalivation describes an excessive production of saliva. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Hypersalivation.
Sialorrhea, the involuntary discharge of saliva from the mouth, commonly referred to as “drooling”, often occurs in the course of hypersalivation.
“Drooling” occurs when the mouth cannot be closed completely or the saliva is difficult to swallow.
There are many causes of increased salivation. Physicians distinguish between local causes, medicinal causes, general diseases and neurological diseases. Hypersalivation often occurs with severe nausea just before vomiting. Temporary hypersalivation can also occur if you eat the wrong food, for example if you eat spicy, hot or very acidic foods.
In babies and young children, hypersalivation is completely normal along with sialorrhea. Increased saliva production and drooling is harmless up to around the age of four. A local cause of hypersalivation can be caries or inflammation of the oral cavity.
In addition, diseases of the salivary glands can lead to excessive production of saliva. Other causes of hypersalivation can be psychological, i.e. due to nervousness or anxiety. Neurological problems, such as Parkinson’s disease, can also be the cause.
With certain infections, such as rabies, there is typically a greatly increased salivation. Poisoning with certain substances, such as mercury, or taking certain medications can also trigger this clinical picture.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Hypersalivation is primarily characterized by excessive production of saliva. This leads to drooling, speech disorders and other symptoms in those affected. For example, some patients experience swallowing disorders or problems with eating. The increased flow of saliva can also lead to aspiration if it enters the esophagus.
In extreme cases, the affected person chokes on the saliva. The excessive production of saliva can also affect the mental state of those affected. Hypersalivation is felt to be extremely unpleasant, and drooling in particular triggers feelings of shame and inferiority complexes in patients. In the worst case, depressive moods or even full-blown depression develop.
Externally, hypersalivation is initially not recognizable. In the long term, however, drooling can lead to inflammation of the lips and corners of the mouth. The affected areas often become red and painful when touched. If the disease is not treated, it can also lead to dehydration, which can manifest itself in fatigue, dizziness and physical weakness, among other things. In general, however, excess saliva production is harmless and the symptoms do not lead to any other health problems.
Diagnosis & History
When making the diagnosis, a detailed anamnesis is first drawn up by the doctor treating you. The first thing to do is to determine whether there is hypersalivation at all. Sometimes there is a problem with the evacuation of saliva, which at first glance looks like excessive saliva production.
Misaligned teeth can cause drooling, for example, even if the amount of saliva produced is within the normal range. After the anamnesis, a swallowing diagnosis is usually made in order to be able to determine a possible swallowing disorder. The amount of saliva released is also measured. An approximate estimate of the amount by the doctor treating you is often sufficient.
However, it may also be necessary to analyze the amount of saliva more precisely, also in connection with the amount of saliva released per unit of time. There are certain devices that can be used to measure the flow of saliva very precisely. Depending on which underlying disease is responsible for the hypersalivation, the course looks different.
In severe, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, the prognosis is certainly worse than in the case of harmless and temporary hypersalivation caused by eating too acidic foods.
In most cases, hypersalivation can be treated relatively well, so that there are no particular limitations or complications. As a rule, the affected person suffers from a greatly increased salivation, which generally has a negative effect on the affected person’s quality of life. It is not uncommon for social complaints to also occur, since the complaints of hypersalivation are viewed as unsightly and unaesthetic.
It can also lead to misaligned teeth or difficulty swallowing. In the worst case, the risk of aspiration is increased by hypersalivation, so that death can still occur. Elderly patients and people suffering from Parkinson’s disease in particular can suffer from hypersalivation.
The treatment of the disease is always causal and depends on the underlying disease. There are no further complications. However, it cannot be predicted whether the hypersalivation can be completely reduced or whether re-treatment will be necessary. In many cases, it is also not possible to treat the underlying disease. Life expectancy is not limited by the disease.
When should you go to the doctor?
Excessive salivation does not always require a doctor’s visit. If the symptoms subside after a few hours or days, this is not a worrying condition. In these cases, the cause can often be traced back to emotional reasons that do not last. However, if the hypersalivation persists or increases in intensity, a doctor should be consulted. If you have problems eating or if you have trouble swallowing, you need to see a doctor. If the person concerned refuses to eat for several days, it is advisable to clarify the symptoms.
This applies in particular to children, older people or people with a low body weight. There is a risk of an undersupply of the organism, which can become an emergency without medical care. If the hypersalivation occurs during the growth phase of the child, it can lead to tooth misalignments. Therefore, a visit to the doctor is recommended as soon as there are any abnormalities in the position of the teeth. Patients suffering from Parkinson’s very often show increased salivation as an accompanying symptom. A doctor should therefore be consulted as soon as the symptoms persist or typical signs of Parkinson’s disease are detected. If there is increased vomiting or a sore throat, see a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
Since there are many different causes of excessive salivation, treatment must address the underlying condition of which hypersalivation is a symptom.
If the cause is local, it may be necessary to correct misaligned teeth or to adjust braces that are not optimally adjusted. Surgical measures may also be necessary. There are medications that reduce the flow of saliva, including the active ingredient atropine, which is administered in the form of tablets. There is also an active ingredient that is stuck behind the ear as a patch. Both active ingredients significantly reduce saliva production.
In particularly severe cases, botulinum toxin can also be used, whereby the doctor injects botox into the salivary glands in the ear or in the lower jaw. If drugs are the cause of hypersalivation, they must either be discontinued or combined with other drugs that have dry mouth as a side effect.
Outlook & Forecast
Hypersalivation can have a variety of causes, on which the chances of an early improvement depend. The prognosis is best for temporary triggers. Hypersalivation associated with pregnancy, for example, is common in hyperemesis gravidarum and improves as morning sickness decreases. If the hypersalivation is due to dental problems or other changes in the mouth, it can also quickly reverse itself by treating the cause.
If the cause cannot be treated quickly, one option is to treat the excess salivation by injecting botulinum toxin into the salivary glands. Whether this is an option for the patient depends on whether the hypersalivation is connected to the salivary glands at all or whether it is a question of a swallowing disorder. In the case of swallowing disorders, this method would be out of the question as long as saliva production is within normal limits.
However, if the hypersalivation is actually due to an overproduction of saliva, this can be brought back to a normal level. The patient no longer suffers from hypersalivation, even if the original cause persists. This option can be considered, for example, in degenerative diseases in order to alleviate hypersalivation as a symptom of the disease and to offer the patient a better quality of life.
There are no specific, universally applicable measures to prevent hypersalivation from developing, as the causes are very diverse. Having good dental and oral hygiene is a step in the right direction, as brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth can help keep your mouth drier.
In most cases, hypersalivation is not a permanent condition, it is only temporary and is easily treatable once the underlying problem has been identified.
Hypersalivation usually occurs as a side effect of other diseases. For this reason, hypersalivation usually ends when the underlying disease has been successfully treated. Follow-up measures are therefore more focused on the specific disease and less on the hypersalivation itself.
The requirements for responsible aftercare are correspondingly diverse, since hypersalivation occurs in connection with a large number of chronic or acute diseases. If the disease is associated with poisoning, the aftercare initially focuses on the physical regeneration of the patient and close medical check-ups.
For example, the doctor analyzes the blood values of the person concerned and makes sure that the poisoning has been overcome and the triggering substances have been eliminated from the body. If hypersalivation occurs as part of dental disease, follow-up care includes regular check-ups with a dentist.
In this way, the patient also prevents further diseases of the dental apparatus and thus further hypersalivation. Sometimes hypersalivation also occurs with mental disorders and stress. Then, as part of the follow-up care, the person affected must ensure that they maintain their mental balance and, in an emergency, contact their psychologist quickly. Recurring hypersalivation can be a helpful indication that a new episode of mental illness is building up.
You can do that yourself
As an acute measure, a cup that can absorb the saliva should always be kept ready in the event of hypersalivation. It is best to put a terry towel under your mouth at night. In addition, suitable lip care products should be used, because the constant flow of saliva causes inflammation and cracks on the lips, which can sometimes cause severe pain. A lip balm prevents irritation of the lip as a result of the constant cleaning of the saliva.
With regard to the diet, spicy or otherwise irritating foods and drinks should be avoided. Alcoholic beverages and coffee should also be avoided. Bread reduces salivation in the short term and can provide temporary relief. Essential lemon oil soothes the nasopharynx and can be inhaled or inhaled through a cloth, for example. Sucking on ice cubes for five minutes also helps occasionally.
Alternatively, some homeopathic remedies can be used. The remedies Alumina, Belladonna and Ignatia as well as the preparation Ammonium Carbonicum have proven themselves. If the symptoms do not go away despite the measures mentioned, or if further complications occur, we recommend that you see a doctor.