Dry Mouth: A Surprising Side Effect

You have probably experienced dry mouth, sometimes referred to as “cotton mouth.” Maybe it happened on a warm summer day… or after a strenuous workout. Maybe you were just dehydrated because you went too long without drinking enough water. You know the feeling—when your mouth is sticky-dry and your tongue feels like sandpaper. You find it hard to swallow, talk or even chew… Having dry mouth for a short period of time is usually of no concern, and a simple glass of water does the trick. However, prolonged, chronic or repeating cases of dry mouth are a concern. This condition is called xerostomia… which should be followed up with an immediate consultation with your doctor.

What Exactly Is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition where your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. The lack of saliva is problematic because saliva helps limit bacterial growth and neutralizes acids in the mouth… which all helps prevent tooth decay. Saliva also makes it easier to both chew and swallow—and it enhances the taste of food. Finally, the enzymes in saliva start the digestion of food long before it reaches the stomach. Symptoms associated with dry mouth include:
  • Bad breath
  • Dry or sticky feeling in your mouth
  • Problems speaking, chewing and/or swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Change in taste perception
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • A dry tongue
You may be wondering why are we posting this information…  

Medications And Dry Mouth

It turns out that dry mouth is one of the most prevalent complaints and side-effects of more than 1,800 drugs, including antidepressants and antipsychotics… which also leads to noncompliance in many patients. Dry mouth can seem like a minor issue, and it often goes undiagnosed and untreated, leading to health problems and lowered quality of life. The combinations of medications and an increase in dose or change in medication may also trigger dry mouth. So, if you are taking any medications and are experiencing dry mouth, please consult your doctor.

Other Possible Causes Of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is also caused by factors other than medication side effects. These include:
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Dehydration, which results from not having enough water daily  
  • Aging, which could include use of medication, inadequate nutrition and/or other health problems
  • Cancer therapy, which can cause temporary (or sometimes permanent) dry mouth due to chemotherapy drugs or radiation damage to the salivary glands
  • Drug use—using methamphetamine is known to cause “meth mouth” and marijuana use also causes dry mouth
  • Other causes could include, but are not limited to, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, strok, and possible nerve damage
If you believe your dry mouth is caused by your medication you should consult with your doctor immediately. Side effect symptoms can usually be treated by changing the medication or changing the dose. Also, staying hydrated—which means drinking water before you feel thirsty—can help alleviate or prevent dry mouth.
How We Can Help You?

Best Day Psychiatry and Counseling is here to help you have a better day and find a better way. We treat a wide range of psychiatric conditions for both children and adults. Contact us today, we’re ready to help:

Fayatteville: (910) 323-1543 Fuquay-Varina: (919) 567-0684 Raleigh: (919) 670-3939  Greenville: (252) 375-3322