We’ve all been parched on occasion, and know how little fun it can be. However, in those for whom it happens chronically, Dry Mouth may be an actual condition in need of treatment, known medically as Xerostomia. About 15 – 20% of adults in their twenties complain of dry mouth, and that frequency just increases with age - to roughly 30 – 40% of people age 60 and older. So what can cause Dry Mouth, and what can we do to combat it?
Xerostomia results from a lack of adequate saliva production, which can be caused by many factors. It can be a side effect of many medications and medical treatments or a product of dehydration or lifestyle indicators such as smoking and breathing through your mouth. Dry mouth can even be an indication of certain diseases and infections, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and mumps.
No matter the cause, the symptoms need to be addressed. Symptoms can include:
So what can we do? Treatment depends largely on what’s causing the condition. If it’s a by-product of a medication or medical treatment, discussing alternatives with your doctor may be all it takes to resolve the issue. In many cases, however, it is not possible to fully correct Xerostomia, and controlling it is our best and only bet. Things to try on your own to stimulate and maintain saliva production: