Drooling is common with infants and young children. But it is quite embarrassing and at times frustrating for an adult to drool. In baby's development drooling occurs normally as they lack muscular control. It mostly occurs during teething. Sometimes excessive drooling may appear in babies due some disease condition or complications like infections, throat pain, any sore in the mouth or nausea. Again infants and children normally drool during sleep, but some adults too drool during sleep. Moreover, drooling in case of adult is not always normal. Drooling can be quite common in adult while sleeping. But when awake, drooling in adult can not only be embarrassing but very uncomfortable leading to social and mental burden.
The reasons for an adult to drool during sleep can be due to an open mouth, abnormal structure of the mouth like enlarged tonsils, large tongue or overcrowded teeth. The problem can be resolved by regular brushing and cleaning of mouth after meals if drooling is minimal. Certain foods which produce excessive salivation like highly sour or sweets items should be avoided. Drinking water or sucking ice frequently in the daytime can help to swallow excess saliva which can reduce drooling at night. Many a times the reasons can be allergy, sinus problem, and respiratory infections or gum/teeth infections. The cure to this problem would lie on the underlying cause. Hence, if it is quite severe, the person has to visit an ENT (Ear, nose, throat) specialist who would be able to examine and find out the cause. If it is a sinus or respiratory problem, undergoing medical treatment and breathing exercises would slowly reduce the symptom. Some people breathe through their mouth while sleeping during unconscious state which causes drooling. This happens when there is nasal passage blockage. So, using certain medication with doctor's advice can help to clear the nasal blockage. Therefore, clear passage would help breathing through nose while sleeping and stop drooling. If it happens to be an anatomical (structural) problem, certain changes in the sleeping posture like sleeping on the back would surely help.
Drooling may appear in adult even when awake. Certain conditions can lead to excessive drooling in adult like cerebral palsy, Bell's palsy, cerebrovascular stroke, respiratory infections viz common cold and cough, severe tonsillitis, seasonal allergies, drug side effects (namely Pilocarpine, Compazine, Thiothixene and Dantrium) and gastroesophageal reflux. Any infection of the mouth like salivary gland (submandibular or parotid) infection also causes increased salivation. Patients with cerebral palsy having excessive drooling become problematic not only to themselves but also to their caretakers. This can lead to difficulty in interacting with others (due to wet and damaged communicative devices), frequent changing of clothes, perioral skin infections and dehydration. Pregnant women do face this problem of drooling due to nausea and morning sickness as the salivary glands are more lubricated. In case of Hyperemesis Gravidarum when there is uncontrolled vomiting, drooling becomes very problematic. Elderly person with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease do drool. Sometimes serious causes like oesophageal and laryngeal cancers can cause drooling.
Treatments options to stop drooling have been discussed earlier. However many options are tried on different individuals. Some prefer to use petroleum jelly in the corner of mouth to avoid leaking of drool. Doctors use medications which causes 'dry mouth' as side effects in some cases. Persons with Parkinsonism or Alzheimer's disease may require speech therapy. Many prefer Botox injections but are not always effective. A surgical option is required when drooling is excessive and persistent or the person does not respond to conservatives measures at all. ENT specialists sometimes remove some of the ducts in case of overactive salivary glands. So, a treatment which works for one individual may not work for another.
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