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Question: Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?

We all need quality sleep. To get through the day on little rest and a rough night is a one-way ticket to Groggy City. You’re not going to wake up in the best mood and will probably bring everyone around you down, even if they did get the right amount of sleep.

There are many different things which can interrupt your sleep such as tossing and turning, snoring, and drooling. All of these things are natural as well as preventable. If not treated, however, they can become critical interruptions to your sleep which interfere too often.

We’ll be discussing what drooling is, how it ruins your quality of sleep, and how to properly attend to it.

What is Drool?

Drool is identified as excessive saliva from your mouth. For most people, this is a once-in-a-blue-moon situation when you encounter drool in your sleep, and you probably sleep right through it.

Occasional drooling can happen because your muscles begin to relax at night when your body and brain power down. So, rather than keeping the saliva down your throat, it can start to flow up and out of your mouth, especially if you sleep on your side or back.

For excessive drooling, however, there is a medical term known as sialorrhea or hypersalivation. If your doctor diagnoses you with either of these, then you should look for a treatment to stop it before it gets worse.

Reasons Behind Excessive Drooling

There are a number of reasons behind why you may experience hypersalivation, and they all have their own solutions.

Allergies and Infections

Allergies can cause inflation and bloating in your throat which doesn’t allow saliva to go back down the throat. Saliva is also created to flush away the dangerous toxins that find their way into your system. If your mouth is open, then you’re going to have allergic reactions. Mold, pollen, dust, dirt, and bacteria are all present and saliva washes it out from your body.

There are also infections which can interrupt your quality of sleep. Strep throat is swelling which makes swallowing harder, and can result in more saliva residue in your mouth. The common cold is a common reason for temporary excess drooling at night. There are other various respiratory infections which can result in blockage in your throat, leaving plenty of saliva left in your mouth at night.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your breathing stops and restarts throughout the night, which can escalate to drastic and potentially dangerous levels. There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airflow channels are repeatedly blocked, mainly by relaxed tissues from your muscles. This can create a buildup in saliva since there is nowhere for it to go. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain stops sending the correct signals telling your body you need to keep breathing. In short, the body shuts down too much, ignoring some essential functions.

Medication Side Effects

Drooling could actually be a result of medications. Either the medication you’re taking is causing it, or a combination of certain medications is creating a drooling reaction. This reaction can occur from medications for psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease which weakens your skeletal muscles.

Difficulty Swallowing

Having difficulty swallowing isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a medical condition called dysphagia. People who have this condition will encounter excessive drooling because the saliva can’t go down their throat at night. Dysphagia could be a result of nervous system disorders such as ALS, Bell’s Palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. It could also result as an after-affect of a stroke. Since your blood isn’t flowing properly or as efficiently to the brain anymore, there could be delayed nervous reactions and instructions.

Ways to Stop Yourself from Drooling

There are ways you can treat drooling at home, on your own. Firstly, if you know you sleep on your side or on your stomach, then alter your sleep position. Start sleeping on your back so you sleep with your mouth downward less and prevent drooling. If you often sleep with your mouth open, then you can also train yourself to close your mouth and breathe through your nose.

You can make it a habit to sit upright in bed before lying down. This will clear out your passages for the night, or use a nasal aspirator to clear out your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe through your nose.

There is another technique to prevent drooling, which is to bite down on a lemon wedge. The citrus will thin out your saliva and prevent buildup. Drinking enough water throughout the day also slows the saliva production process since you’re keeping yourself well hydrated.

There are some oral appliances you can look into that help prevent hypersalivation. They can be found at specialty stores and bought after a prescription or a notice that they’ll be helpful for you. A CPAP machine could be recommended by a doctor. This machine positions you properly and helps you breathe during the night. A prior sleep study may be required.

More aggressive solutions for this issue are to get a Botox injection or have surgery done. The Botox injection will be placed inside of your saliva glands to prevent too much production of saliva. This is not a permanent solution since Botox will eventually wear off overtime.

Surgery is only recommended in the direst cases. Your salivary glands are removed completely so there is no production at all. Surgery is used to treat neurological complications which have reached critical stages.

If medicine is the issue you’re facing, then never try to choose new medications yourself or stop taking them without first consulting a doctor. Always have a consultation with your regular doctor about what is causing the hypersalivation and what alternatives you have open to you.

To deal with allergic reactions, dysphagia, or infections, an ENT doctor visit is probably the next step you should take, though many people prefer to first consult their regular doctor before approaching a new one.

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