Do you constantly find yourself reaching for a glass of water? Thirst is a common feeling, but if you’re always thirsty, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. One of the most overlooked causes of excessive thirst is dry mouth, known as xerostomia.
Dry mouth is more than just discomfort. It can affect both the pleasure of eating and the health of your teeth. Saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay by limiting the growth of bacteria and removing food and plaque. It also enhances your ability to taste food and helps with swallowing. The enzymes in saliva even aid in digestion.
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it’s essential to identify the cause. In many cases, dry mouth is a side effect of certain medications. This condition can be improved by adjusting doses or changing the medicine altogether.
The signs and symptoms of dry mouth include a persistent feeling of dryness, sticky saliva, cracked corners of the mouth, dry lips, bad breath, difficulty speaking and swallowing, a dry and sore throat, altered sense of taste, fungal infections in the mouth, and an increased risk of plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Here are some common causes of dry mouth:
1. Stress and Mental Illness
Stress is something we all experience from time to time, but prolonged stress can lead to mental imbalances, anxiety, and depression. These conditions often accompany the feeling of dry mouth.
Excessive use of diuretics or blood pressure medication is a prevalent cause of dry mouth. Diuretics remove excess sodium from the body, but water is needed to eliminate this sodium. If you’re considering taking any blood pressure or diuretic medication, it’s best to consult a doctor.
When the body doesn’t receive enough food and water, its functions are reduced, including the activity of the salivary glands. This reduction in saliva production leads to dry mouth and can contribute to overall malnutrition.
Dry mouth can be a symptom of diabetes. If you’re experiencing dry mouth along with increased thirst, unusual food intake, and weight loss, it’s essential to get your sugar levels checked.
Dehydration can cause that dry mouth feeling. It can occur due to high temperatures, recent vomiting, or diarrhea. If you’re dehydrated, consuming foods rich in potassium can help alleviate dryness.
6. Tumor Treatment
Radiation treatment for malignant tumors can affect the mucous membranes of the esophagus, stomach, and entire intestinal system. Patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience dry mouth as a side effect.
7. Other Medical Conditions
Dry mouth can also be a consequence of other medical conditions or their treatments. Conditions like autoimmune Sjogren’s disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, anxiety disorders, and depression can all contribute to dry mouth. Even stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, where salivary glands function normally, can cause dry mouth, especially if accompanied by snoring or open-mouthed breathing.
If you’re constantly thirsty and experiencing dry mouth, it’s crucial to pinpoint the underlying cause. Consulting a healthcare professional can help you identify the best treatment options to alleviate dryness and improve your oral health. Remember, a healthy mouth is essential for overall well-being.