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What is sialorrhea?

Sialorrhea is drooling or excess saliva that you cannot control. It may be caused by weakness or loss of control of the face, tongue, mouth, or throat muscles that makes it difficult to swallow. It may also be caused by conditions that increase saliva production, such as gastric reflux or the use of certain medicines.

What are the risks of sialorrhea?

Sialorrhea may lead to chapped lips, skin breakdown, odor, and infection of your mouth. Drooling can disturb your sleep. Your voice may sound wet or you may gurgle. Sialorrhea may reduce your quality of life. You may become embarrassed and withdraw from people. Severe sialorrhea may cause dehydration or choking. These may become life-threatening.

How is sialorrhea managed?

  • Therapy will help you strengthen your face and mouth muscles so you can control your saliva. Therapists will also help you with your posture, and show you how to hold your head to prevent drooling.
  • A portable suction machine can help remove saliva from your mouth.
  • Medicines may be used to reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. These include pills, inhalers, injections, or patches.
  • Radiation therapy is used to stop saliva from forming in your salivary glands.
  • Surgery may be used to close or remove your salivary glands. It may also be used to kill the nerves that control the glands.

When should I contact my caregiver?

  • You continue to drool, even with treatment.
  • You have increased episodes of choking.
  • You have redness, pain, sores, or chapping in or around your mouth.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You choke and cannot breathe.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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