Causes of salivation

Written by mary rickard
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Causes of salivation
Saliva originates in the mouth. (everystockphoto.com/craig)

Salivation is the body's method of keeping the mouth clean, helping to swallow food and cooling the body. Three sets of salivary glands produce one to two quarts a day to help us taste, digest, speak and limit microbes entering the body, but certain conditions can increase the amount of saliva.

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Purpose

Salivation is the body's method of keeping the mouth clean, helping to swallow food and cooling the body. Three sets of salivary glands produce one or two litres a day to help us taste, digest, speak and limit microbes entering the body, but certain conditions can increase the amount of saliva.

Quantity

You have three sets of salivary glands -- the parotid by the ear, the submandibular underneath the jaw and the sublingual beneath the tongue. Saliva is a combination of water, mucus, electrolytes and enzymes. Up to two litres of saliva a day are generally kept under control by continual swallowing. Occasionally, the amount produced can increase due to hormonal changes in pregnancy, new dentures or braces or inflammation in the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Damage to the nerves controlling the salivary glands could also increase saliva production. The Wrong Diagnosis website cites 386 possible causes of excessive salivation, few of them serious. If you have been taking certain medications that have dry mouth as a side effect, for example, stopping their use could unleash a wave of saliva. Some of those drugs include pilocarpine, clozapine, reserpine and isoproterenol. The only fatal disease that could be indicated by drooling is rabies, rare in humans.

Cause

Rather than overproduction, difficulty swallowing may be the cause of excess saliva. Drooling is a symptom of Parkinson's disease resulting from infrequent swallowing. Cerebral palsy and other neurological diseases, including Bell's palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and gastro-oseophageal reflux, create difficulties swallowing and cause excessive saliva. Nasal obstruction due to allergies, infection, enlarged adenoids or nasal polyps can also increase the amounts.

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