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Alternative Names Return to topSalivation
Definition Return to top
Drooling is saliva flowing outside the mouth.
Considerations Return to top
Drooling is generally caused by:
Some people with drooling problems are at increased risk of breathing saliva, food, or fluids into the lungs. This may cause harm if there is a problem with the body's normal reflexes (such as gagging and coughing).
Drooling caused by nervous system (neurologic) problems can often be managed with drugs that block the action of the chemical messenger, acetylcholine (anticholinergic drugs). In severe cases, people can reduce drooling by injecting botulism toxin, getting high-energy x-rays (radiation) to the glands in the mouth that make saliva (salivary glands), and other methods.
Causes Return to top
Some drooling in infants and toddlers is normal and is not usually a sign of a disease or other problem. It may occur with teething. Drooling in infants and young children may get worse with upper respiratory infections and nasal allergies.
Drooling that occurs with fever or trouble swallowing may be a sign of a more serious disease, including:
Sudden drooling may occur with poisoning (especially by pesticides) or a reaction to snake or insect venom.
Other things that can cause drooling:
Home Care Return to top
Care for drooling due to teething includes good oral hygiene. Popsicles or other cold objects (such as frozen bagels) may be helpful. Take care to avoid choking when a child uses any of these objects.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will do a physical examination and ask questions about the symptoms, including:
The tests performed depend on the symptoms that occur with the drooling.
References Return to top
Savarese R, Diamond M, Elovic E, Millis SR. Intraparotid injection of botulism toxin A as a treatment to control sialorrhea in children with cerebral palsy. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2004;83:304-311.
Postma AG, Heesters M, van Laar T. Radiotherapy to the salivary glands as treatment of sialorrhea in patients with parkinsonism. Mov Disord. 2007;22:2430-2435.Update Date: 2/6/2008 Updated by: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.