Dry Mouth – More Than An Uncomfortable Symptom

2011-03-31 Wellescent |

The unpleasantness of a dry mouth is an experience that most of us will endure in its most extreme form when we have a bad cold or have had too much alcohol the night before. Drinking causes simple dehydration and all that breathing through our mouths from a cold quickly dries out the saliva. The result is a tongue that can stick to the roof of the mouth and breath that can peel paint. It is certainly unpleasant when it occurs, but after we are again hydrated or the cold is vanquished, our mouths will resume producing saliva as normal.

Although drinking as a cause of dry mouth is well understood, dry mouth can be a greater issue. For many people, a dry mouth or xerostomia is more than a passing experience. It represents a chronic problem that affects the quality of life. In the more serious cases, the condition can also become a health issue.

Who Is Affected By Dry Mouth?

Within the US population, between 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 people complain of chronic problems of dry mouth. In those over the age of 65, 30% suffer from the problem. The number of people affected by the condition continues to increase.

What Are The Causes Of Dry Mouth?

The most significant reason for this increase can be tied to increases in medication use amongst the population. Drugs for high blood pressure, depression, pain control and allergies can all cause varying levels of dry mouth. This includes both prescription and over the counter drugs.

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, roughly 90% of dental patients who complain of dry mouth are taking more than one medication. In addition, 1 in 3 people who take 3 or more medications regularly will suffer from dry mouth. With the increases in medication use and increasing number of seniors using medications, the problem will affect an increasing percentage of the population.

Although medications are the single biggest cause of dry mouth, the condition does affect many others. People with allergies are often at risk of the condition because of how they breathe. A plugged up nose and sinuses will cause some allergy sufferers to breath through their mouth causing dry mouth to occur.

One last cause of dry mouth to mention that is also common is as a result of cancer treatment. In this case, it is not the medications that cause the problem. In cancers of the head and neck, unintended radiation delivery often damages the salivary glands. This results in the glands being less able to produce sufficient saliva.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Symptom Information

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