What is Xerostomia?
Xerostomia, also called as dry mouth, is a condition when the body isn’t making enough saliva making the mouth dry and uncomfortable. Xerostomia occurs either due to damage in the saliva glands or due to related health conditions or medicinal side-effect which affects the saliva glands’ ability to produce or retain moisture in the mouth.
Saliva is important to keep the mouth moistened and digest food. It also prevents infection by controlling fungi and bacteria in the mouth. Xerostomia can lead to a lot of health conditions.
Xerostomia symptoms essentially begin with the discomfort caused due to a lack of saliva in the mouth. However, different people can experience different symptoms depending upon their health conditions. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Xerostomia are listed below for your understanding.
- Dry feeling in the mouth
- Elevated and frequent thirst
- Dry throat
- Cracked lips
- Split skin or sores in the mouth
- Difficulty in speaking, chewing food, and swallowing
- Tingling sensation or burning in the tongue
- Dry nasal passage
- Red and dry tongue
- Fungal infections in the mouth or body
- Digestion problems
- Sticky or stringy saliva
- Taste disorders
Who is at Risk?
Xerostomia risk factors vary from individual to individual. Some people are more vulnerable to developing the condition than others. Certain red flags for when an individual might be at risk include:
- People over the age of 50
- People who take too many medications
- People who have undergone Radiotherapy known to cause damage to saliva glands
- People who sweat excessively
- People who smoke
Xerostomia causes depend on individual lifestyle, health conditions, etc. Some of the underlying causes of Xerostomia could include:
- Medicinal Interactions: Dry Mouth or Xerostomia is a common side-effect of a lot of prescription and over-the-counter medications including medications used for pain, allergies, hypertension, acne, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, psychotic disorders, etc. Two different medicines too can sometimes interact and cause dry mouth.
- Age: Even though Xerostomia is not a natural part of aging, it could occur in people with another health condition, inappropriate lifestyle, dehydration, etc.
- Health conditions: Sometimes other health conditions can bring in Xerostomia or dry mouth as a related condition. These include anxiety, depression, HIV/AIDS, snoring, Alzheimer’s disease, poorly managed diabetes, etc.
- Injury: Sudden injury related to nerve damage, head or neck damage, etc can cause dry mouth
- Treatments: Medical treatments like Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy, etc damage the saliva glands causing Xerostomia
How is Xerostomia diagnosed?
Xerostomia diagnosis is important because dry mouth raises the risk of tooth decay, gum diseases, fungal and bacterial infections, and disruption in the digestive system. Therefore, often related diseases lead to the diagnosis of Xerostomia.
- Physical examination – Upon regular checkups doctors can physically notice the symptoms of dry mouth and diagnose Xerostomia
- Xerostomia test – Your doctor can undertake a test to check on the amount of saliva produced in the mouth
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How is Xerostomia treated?
Xerostomia treatment is designed after diagnosing the underlying cause of the condition. For instance, if it’s a side-effect of medicine, the doctor may change the medication. Here are some of how a doctor designs for Xerostomia cure.
- Xerostomia medicine – Doctors may prescribe Xerostomia medication to boost saliva production in the saliva glands. A mouth rinse can also be advised to restore the moisture in the mouth.
- Plenty of Fluids – Doctors advise keeping the mouth wet all the time by including a lot of fluids in the diet. Drinking enough water, fruit juices, saltwater, etc can be important here.
- Artificial Substitutes – In rare cases, when natural remedies or medicines don’t work for dry mouth treatment, doctors may prescribe the usage of artificial substitutes of saliva to keep the body functioning well.
How can Xerostomia be prevented?
Xerostomia prevention can be outlined in a lot of home remedies and lifestyle changes that help in keeping the mouth lubricated. Here are some measures of Xerostomia prevention.
- Eating a nutritious diet that includes carrot, celery, spinach, etc.
- Breathing through the mouth as it saves from the passing of air in the mouth and saving moisture
- Using alcohol-free mouthwashes
- Sipping on non-fizzy, non-carbonated, and sugar-free fluids
- Avoid wearing dentures to sleep
- Avoid spicy, dry, sugary, or acidic foods and drinks
- Drinking at least 2-3 litres of water daily for complete hydration