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What causes dry mouth?

There are many causes of dry mouth. Dry mouth most commonly occurs as a side effect of medications that cause decreased saliva production, including high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, narcotics, and many others. There are over 400 commonly used medications that can cause dry mouth. Other causes of dry mouth include dehydration, radiation treatments to treat cancerous tumors of the head and neck, salivary gland diseases, removal of salivary glands, diabetes, smoking, using chewing tobacco, hormonal imbalances, mouth breathing, sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, mumps, and autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, are other risk factors for developing xerostomia. Salivary production can be decreased if a major salivary duct becomes blocked, such as from a salivary stone or infection. Dry mouth will often occur during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to dehydration and hormonal changes. Other risk factors include stress, anxiety, and depression. Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease often lead to dehydration, making a person constantly at risk for dry mouth. These along with stroke can cause a perception of dry mouth even if salivary function is adequate, due to the diminished ability to perceive oral sensations. Nerve damage or trauma to the head and neck can affect the nerves that provide sensation to the mouth and result in a feeling of dry mouth.

Return to Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

See what others are saying

Comment from: markg, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 24

About 3 years ago I noticed dryness and burning in my throat and mouth. This started following a 102 fever I endured for a couple of days. I don't know if causative, but I had dental work a few days earlier. Anyway, I have suffered from dryness ever since and at times it feels like I can't swallow or have swelling. Sugarless gum is my salvation but my teeth have shifted a bit. I have yet to receive a diagnosis of Sjogren's but that usually takes many years to receive. My eyes are dry and I have punctal plugs. I also am a carrier of the Z gene for alpha-1 antitrypsin so perhaps that is related. It will make you crazy.

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Comment from: trish, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I have alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency and take lots of inhalers. I have dry eyes and an extremely dry mouth. I have trouble talking and sometimes when I go to swallow nothing happens. Other times I have so much saliva that I feel like I am drowning on it all. When I go to swallow saliva at night I have to cough as I feel that it sticks in my throat.

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Comment from: Flameondo, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: November 20

I always get dry mouth when I wake up. I wear braces and currently scheduled for jaw surgery next year. My jaw doesn't line up correctly, therefore my mouth stays open slightly (probably opens wider when I'm asleep). I think this is the main cause of my dry mouth. I also take regular paracetamol which I've heard can cause dry mouth if you take them before going to bed.

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