15 Possible Causes Of Excessive Saliva Production

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Causes For Excessive Saliva

The accumulation of excess saliva in your mouth can be uncomfortable and even distressing. A host of conditions can cause this problem – mononucleosis, strep throat, tonsillitis, peritonsillar abscess, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are a few. Excessive salivation is also common if you have nausea, are pregnant, or are on certain medicines. Swollen adenoids, exposure to toxins, and certain nervous system disorders can be triggers as well.

Saliva is one of those silent workers in our body that we don’t give a second thought to – until something goes wrong! Normally, we produce around 0.75 to 1.5 liters of saliva in a day. But when this balance in volume goes for a toss and excess saliva accumulates in your mouth, it can get uncomfortable and even distressing.

Saliva performs many important functions – from protecting your mouth and teeth from infections to helping you digest food and aiding speech by lubricating your tongue and mouth. However, certain factors can lead to the production of excess saliva. Problems swallowing can also cause excess saliva to accumulate in the mouth, which can then lead to drooling. The result is bacterial infections and bad breath. This can also increase the risk of inhaling fluids or foods into your lungs.1 2

Identifying why you salivate a lot is the first step in sorting the problem. Here’s a look at some conditions that can cause excess saliva production.

15 Possible Causes For Excess Saliva Production

1. Swollen Adenoids

Enlarged adenoids may lead to excess saliva in the mouth. Adenoids, the tissue behind your nose and above the roof of your mouth, are a part of your immune system. Infections can cause them to become swollen – a condition that generally affects children. This condition can make swallowing difficult and, as a result, cause excess saliva. People with swollen adenoids also tend to breathe through their mouth because their nose is blocked and may experience symptoms like bad breath, cracked lips, a runny nose, and dry mouth. Other signs of swollen adenoids include trouble sleeping and frequent ear infections.

What to do: Enlarged adenoids don’t need treatment if there are no disturbing symptoms. They tend to naturally shrink as a child grows older. If there’s an infection, your doctor may prescribe steroid nasal sprays or antibiotics. In severe cases, surgery may be advised to remove the adenoids.3

2. Medicines

Certain tranquilizers, anticholinesterases, and anticonvulsants can cause excess saliva.4

What to do: Check with your doctor and find out if any medication that you’re on has this side effect.

3. Toxic Exposure

Exposure to toxic substances like pesticides, mercury, or snake or insect venom can cause excess saliva. Symptoms of poisoning will depend on the toxic substance that you’ve been exposed to and can range from the production of excess saliva and chills to blurred vision and breathing difficulties. Some general signs that can indicate poisoning include stomach pains, vomiting, confusion, fainting spells, and drowsiness

What to do: Seek emergency medical attention if you have been exposed to a toxic substance or suspect that you may have been poisoned.

4. Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis, a viral infection that’s mostly spread by close contact and saliva, can lead to excessive salivation. Other symptoms of this condition include a fever, rash, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, drowsiness, and swollen glands in your neck and under your arms.

What to do: Your doctor may prescribe steroid medication if your condition is severe. Meanwhile, drinking a lot of fluids and getting sufficient rest can help your body heal. Also, a salt water gargle may help ease your sore throat. The fever associated with this condition generally resolves in around 10 days and your swollen glands will heal in about a month.5

5. Strep Throat

Strep throat is another infection that can cause excessive saliva. Bacteria known as group A streptococcus bacteria are responsible for this condition. Strep is spread through contaminated saliva or nasal fluids from someone who is already infected. Some other common symptoms of this condition include a sore reddened throat that might get white patches, a sudden fever, chills, pain when you swallow, and swollen glands in the neck. It is quite common among children.

What to do: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for this condition. Do keep in mind that if a strep throat is left untreated, it can cause complications like kidney disease or rheumatic fever. However, with proper treatment, you should get better in around a week. Try home remedies such as warm tea with lemon or honey to soothe a sore throat. Cold fluids or ice pops can be helpful too. Also, try using a humidifier if your throat feels dry.6

7. Peritonsillar Abscess

Peritonsillar abscess is a condition where infected pus collects between the wall of your throat and your tonsils. This is a rare complication of tonsillitis which is usually caused by a bacteria known as group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus. You may experience symptoms like fever, chills, earache, intense pain in your throat that’s generally on just one side, pain when you open the mouth, trouble swallowing, drooling, swelling in your face or neck, headache, and sore glands in your throat and jaw if you have this condition.

What to do: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics if this condition is caught early enough. However, if an abscess has developed, your doctor will need to drain it with a needle or a surgical procedure. In severe cases, your tonsils may also need to be removed. Do keep in mind that sometimes swollen tissues due to this condition may block your airways and cause breathing problems. If this happens, you need emergency medical attention.7

8. Sinus Infections

Infections by bacteria, viruses, or fungi can cause the tissue lining your sinuses to become inflamed. Other than excessive saliva, this can commonly cause symptoms like bad breath, cough, loss of smell, fatigue, fever, headache, pain behind your eyes, toothache, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat.

What to do: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Surgery to drain your sinuses or enlarge the sinus opening may also be advised in some cases. Home remedies like a saline nasal wash, steam inhalation, and the use of a humidifier can help you deal with a stuffy nose. Also, make sure that you take in lots of fluids to thin out mucus. Avoiding extreme temperatures, flying, and bending down when your sinuses are congested can be useful too as it eases pressure and pain.8

9. Nervous System Disorders

Conditions that affect your nervous system can make it difficult for you to swallow and leave excess saliva in your mouth. Some disorders that can do this and cause drooling include like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.9 Various factors like infections, trauma, degeneration, structural defects, autoimmune disorders, and the disruption of blood flow can damage your nervous system.

Some general and common signs of a disorder of the nervous system are tingling, loss of feeling, a constant headache, a headache that comes on suddenly, sudden vision loss, double vision, memory loss, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, slurred speech, rigid muscles, tremors, seizures, and back pain that radiates to other body parts.

What to do: You will need to see a doctor who specializes in neurological conditions and they may need to run numerous tests to diagnose your condition. The treatment prescribed according to your diagnosis may include medication, physical rehabilitation, or surgery.10

10. Allergies

An allergy develops when your immune system, which defends your body against harmful substances like germs, mistakenly reacts against a harmless substance. The environment, as well as your genetic material, may play a part in the development of an allergy. Substances that commonly cause allergic reactions include dust miles, pollen, dander, certain foods, mold, medicines, insect stings etc.

Aside from salivating a lot, you may also experience symptoms like a runny nose, itching, sneezing, and rashes when you have an allergic reaction.11

What to do: Avoiding substances that can trigger an allergic reaction is an effective way of preventing allergies. Your doctor may also prescribe medications like antihistamines, decongestions, or steroid medicines to deal with this condition.

11. Rabies

Rabies is an infection caused by a virus that affects the nerves and the brain. It’s generally passed on by a scratch or bite from an infected animal. It can also be transmitted if the saliva of an infected animal gets into an open wound, your eyes, or mouth. All mammals can carry this virus but it’s more common in dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, foxes, jackals, and mongooses.

If treatment is not given, the symptoms of rabies can appear around 3 to 12 weeks after infection. Initially, you may experience a high fever (100.4°F or above), a headache, anxiety, and discomfort where you’ve been bitten. A few days later, other symptoms like excessive salivation, frothing at the mouth, aggressive behavior, hallucinations, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and paralysis can develop.

What to do: Once the symptoms of rabies appear, it’s almost always fatal. That’s why it’s important to take certain protective measures if you’ve been exposed to the rabies virus, say by being bitten or scratched by an animal that’s infected. These measures are almost always effective if they’re started before symptoms appear. So here’s what you need to do:

  • If you’ve been scratched or bitten by an animal immediately, clean the area with soap and running water for several minutes and then disinfect with an iodine or alcohol based disinfectant.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend a course of rabies vaccine and a medicine known as immunoglobulin.12

12. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where your stomach contents move from your stomach backward into your food pipe and irritate it. GERD occurs when the ring of muscles at the bottom of your food pipe, known as lower esophageal sphincter, become weak. This stops these muscles from closing properly and allows stomach contents to leak into the food pipe. Factors like the consumption of alcohol, obesity, smoking, and pregnancy can increase your risk for this condition. So can medical problems like scleroderma, where you see an abnormal growth of connective tissue, and hiatal hernia, where a section your stomach moves into your lower chest. Certain medications used for conditions like insomnia, asthma, and high blood pressure can also cause GERD.

Other symptoms of GERD include heartburn, trouble swallowing, a sense that food is stuck behind your ribs, wheezing, nausea after eating, coughing, a hoarse voice, and a sore throat. Your symptoms may worsen after you eat, at night, or when you lie down.

What to do: Measures such as having smaller meals, avoiding foods which trigger symptoms, and managing your weight can be useful. You can also use prescription medicines as well as antacids to relieve symptoms. In certain cases, your doctor may advise surgery.13

13. Nausea

Nausea is that uneasy feeling that makes you feel like throwing up. And people generally produce excess saliva just before they vomit. 14 Many factors including infections, migraines, morning sickness, motion sickness, food poisoning, and chemotherapy can cause nausea.

What to do: Avoiding solid food for about 6 hours after vomiting stops can be helpful. Also, make sure you take in plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Usually, nausea is not a cause for concern but if you also experience symptoms like blood in your vomit, intense abdominal pain, a headache, and stiff neck or have been vomiting for longer than a period of 24 hours, do see a doctor.15

14. Pregnancy

You may produce excess saliva when you’re pregnant. This may be brought on by nausea or a reflex that’s commonly experienced during pregnancy.

What to do: This is not a cause for worry and should resolve on its own.

15. Teething In Babies

Your baby may produce excess saliva when she’s teething and this can cause her to drool. Teething can also cause your baby to bite or gnaw and trigger symptoms like irritability and skin rashes. She may also get a low fever.

What to do: Giving her something cold like a veggie popsicle to gnaw can be helpful. Also, try massaging her gums gently with a clean finger to soothe them.16

References   [ + ]

1, 4.Bavikatte, Ganesh, Poh Lin Sit, and Ali Hassoon. “Management of drooling of saliva.” British Journal of Medical Practitioners 5, no. 1 (2012): a507.
2.Drooling. National Institutes of Health.
3.Enlarged adenoids. National Institutes of Health.
5.Mononucleosis. National Institutes of Health.
6.Strep throat. National Institutes of Health.[/ref[

6. Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is a condition where your tonsils, the glands present at the back of your mouth and the start of your throat, swell up. This generally happens due to a bacterial infection such as strep. If you have tonsillitis, you can also expect symptoms like trouble swallowing, fever, chills, headache, earache, a sore throat, and tenderness in your jaw.

What to do: If you’re not experiencing symptoms, you may not need any treatment for this condition. If your condition is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In some cases, surgical removal of your tonsils may also be recommended. Meanwhile, simple home remedies like gargling with salt water and drinking fluids that are bland and warm may help relieve a sore throat.[ref]Tonsillitis. National Institutes of Health.

7.Peritonsillar abscess. National Institutes of Health.
8.Sinusitis. National Institutes of Health.
9.Drooling. National Health Service.
10.Overview of Nervous System Disorders. University of Rochester.
11.Allergy. National Institutes of Health.
12.Rabies. National Health Service.
13.Gastroesophageal reflux disease. National Institutes of Health.
14.Treating nausea. National Health Service.
15.Nausea and Vomiting. National Institutes of Health.
16.Your Infant is Teething: Know the Signs and Symptoms . Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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