Drooling: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Drooling is the unintentional spillage of saliva from the mouth. Drooling can occur with any condition that impairs neuromuscular control of the muscles around the mouth, leading to weak muscles around the mouth, that increases salivation (the production of saliva), or that impairs swallowing. Cerebral palsy is one example of a condition in which oral neuromuscular control may be impaired, resulting in drooling. Other medical conditions that may cause drooling because of swallowing problems include Down syndrome, autism, ALS, stroke, and Parkinson's disease.

Drooling is common in infants because of immature muscular control. Medically, drooling is referred to as ptyalism, and an excess of saliva is known as sialorrhea. Conditions that lead to overproduction of saliva may sometimes lead to drooling. These can include infectious mononucleosis, sinus infections, strep throat, and peritonsillar abscess. Pregnant women may experience an excess of saliva related to nausea and vomiting.

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2016
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