Excessive saliva Symptoms and Causes

Excessive saliva Symptoms Causes

The excessive saliva is also known as hypersalivation. The hypersalivation is also known as ptyalism or sialorrhea. This is a condition in which a person has too much saliva in the mouth. This can result in saliva from the mouth spilling over the bottom lip and this is known as drooling. The hypersalivation can be constant or intermittent which depends on the cause. Also it can be chronic or temporary. In many cases, hypersalivation can cause a person social anxiety [1]. This is not a disease and usually, hypersalivation is a symptom of another underlying condition. When we say other factors, then you should know that they can range from easily treated to common causes to rare diseases. We know that the saliva is a clear liquid which is produced by the salivary glands in our mouth. Saliva moistens the food and it aids swallowing. Also it has enzymes which can help with the digestion. It can help to heal wounds and remove germs from the mouth. Also, saliva can prevent dryness and it is acting as a barrier against toxins and irritants. It is estimated that on average a healthy person is producing between 0.75 and 1.5 liters of saliva each day. The saliva production peaks some person is eating and it is lowest when we are sleeping. When we are having too much saliva, then this can cause problems with eating and talking, along with skin infections and chapped lips [2]. The hypersalivation and drooling can cause diminished self – esteem and cause social anxiety. There are some cases when the causes of hypersalivation can clear up over time without treatment. These causes include minor injuries, anxiety and pregnancy. There are other causes which can pose more serious medical challenges. In this category are included factors, such as nerve and neurological disorders.

Excessive saliva Symptoms

Symptoms: The most common symptoms of hypersalivation are excessive swallowing, spitting and drooling. Here are other related symptoms of hypersalivation:

  • Poor sense of taste
  • Pneumonia
  • Speech disturbances
  • Dehydration
  • Bad breath
  • Infection of the skin around the mouth
  • Softening and damage to the skin around the mouth
  • Chapped lips

The hypersalivation and drooling can cause social anxiety and psychological complications and they can impact the ability to speak or eat. Those people who experience hypersalivation are more likely to inhale fluids, food or saliva into their lungs which could lead to aspiration pneumonia [3]. This can happen when the coughing and gagging reflex are impaired.

Excessive saliva Symptoms Causes

Excessive saliva Symptoms Causes

Causes: The hypersalivation can be a result of:

  • Difficulty keeping the mouth closed
  • An inability to effectively clear saliva or swallow saliva from the mouth
  • Excessive saliva production

Here are some causes of excessive saliva production which are leading to hypersalivation:

  • Jaw fractures or dislocation [4]
  • Regurgitation of saliva during heartburn
  • Severe or sudden pain
  • Severe infections such as rabies or tuberculosis
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Ulcers, inflammation or pain in the mouth
  • False teeth
  • Poisonous spider bites, reptile venom and poisonous mushrooms
  • Sinus, throat or peritonsillar infections
  • Morning sickness or nausea during pregnancy

Also there are some cases when difficulty swallowing or clearing saliva from the mouth can be associated or caused by some underlying condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, ALS, autism and Down syndrome. Those people, who have a sensory dysfunction, may not always realize that they are drooling. The poor neuromuscular control of the muscles around the mouth is a cause of inability to keep the mouth closed which could lead to drooling. The cerebral palsy is an example of this kind of condition [5]. Also difficulty to keep the saliva in the mouth can be due to:

  • Nasal blockage
  • Poor teeth alignment
  • An enlarged tongue or poor tongue mobility
  • Impaired tactile sensation
  • A constantly open mouth
  • Poor head and lip control

Also there are non – medical conditions which can lead to hypersalivation, such as smelling, seeing, tasting food or even in some cases it can be caused by thinking about food. Hypersalivation can be caused by chewing gum or by feelings of anxiety and excitement.


[1] Hofmann SG. Advances in the research of social anxiety and its disorder (Special section). Anxiety Stress Coping. 2010;23(3):239–42.

[2] Güvenç IA. Sialorrhea: A guide to etiology, assessment, and management. 2018. Retrieved from www.intechopen.com/books/salivary-glands-new-approaches-in-diagnostics-and-treatment/sialorrhea-a-guide-to-etiology-assessment-and-management

[3] Trigoboff E, Grace J, Szymanski H, et al. Sialorrhea and aspiration pneumonia: A case study. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2013;10(5-6):20–7.

[4] Susarla SM, Swanson EW, Peacock ZS. Bilateral mandibular fractures. Eplasty. 2014;14:ic38.

[5] Erasmus CE, Van Hulst K, Rotteveel LJ, et al. Drooling in cerebral palsy: hypersalivation or dysfunctional oral motor control? Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 2009;51(6):454-9.


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