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How do other illnesses affect dry mouth?

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is often a side effect of certain medications meant to target certain illnesses. For example, both chemotherapy and radiation may cause dry mouth, so you could say that the treatment for your illness is causing your dry mouth. Additionally, radiation can kill the salivary glands, causing a physical reason for your dry mouth.

Illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, diabetes, and Sjogren's syndrome may produce symptoms of dry mouth, a condition that makes your mouth unusually parched. Having dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, reduces the amount of saliva needed to wash away food particles and dead cells and can lead to bad breath. Dry mouth usually results from the side effects of medications to treat illnesses like diarrhea, urinary incontinence, depression, anxiety, Parkinson's disease, and allergies. Your doctor may adjust your dosage to treat the symptoms of dry mouth.  
Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems become more common. Some of the common problems associated with dry mouth include a constant sore throat, burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can occur.

In addition, dry mouth is a potential side effect of numerous medications (prescribed and over-the-counter). Among them are antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinson’s disease medications, antidepressants and many others. Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection.

Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture.

Continue Learning about Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

How common is dry mouth?
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Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is very common, In fact, everyone’s mouth can be dry sometimes. H...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.