What is Hyposalivation?
Hyposalivation is a pathological condition in which there is insufficient or decreased production of saliva. Hyposalivation may be acute meaning that it may occur for a short period of time and chronic meaning that this condition occurs for a prolonged period of time. Hyposalivation occurs when the salivary glands, whose function is to produce saliva which helps in the process of digestion, is not able to produce enough saliva that the body requires normally. Malfunction of the salivary gland may not be the only factor causing Hyposalivation.
The most common symptom of Hyposalivation is dry mouth, although there are many other symptoms that may also be associated with Hyposalivation. Anatomically speaking, saliva is produced by three sets of salivary glands called the sublingual, submandibular, and parotid glands along with many other tiny glands and cells that produce mucous that line the inside part of the mouth. Under normal circumstances, on an average approximately 2-3 liters of saliva is produced on a daily basis.
There may be a slight diminution in volume at times which is not a cause for concern but when there is a significant decrease in the volume and the problem persists to an extent of causing symptoms then a physician consultation and treatment is required for treating Hyposalivation.
What Causes Hyposalivation?
Some of the causes of Hyposalivation are:
Dehydration: This is perhaps one of the most common causes of Hyposalivation. Dehydration occurs when the fluids in the body become too low for normal functioning of the body. This also results in reduction in the production of saliva causing Hyposalivation. Hyposalivation usually occurs due to persistent vomiting and diarrhea, which is quite a common condition but if the body is derived of the essential electrolytes due to dehydration then emergent treatment is necessary to replenish the lost electrolytes.
Autoimmune Causes: Sjogren Syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune causes for Hyposalivation, as it affects the salivary glands and the salivary ducts. This is due to the body’s defense mechanism attacking the healthy cells in the salivary glands resulting in reduced production of saliva causing Hyposalivation.
Infections: Salivary gland infections are yet another cause for Hyposalivation. These infections occur due to an obstruction in the gland resulting in low production of saliva. Bacteria like staph aureus is the most common type of bacterium that results in a salivary gland infection causing Hyposalivation.
Medications: There are also certain classes of medications that may result in reduced production of saliva causing Hyposalivation. These classes of drugs are antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, sedatives, and diuretics. Chemotherapy drugs are also known to affect the production of saliva and cause Hyposalivation.
Salivary Stones: This is a condition which arises either from dehydration or impacted food debris, which may cause formation of stones in the salivary gland causing obstruction resulting in Hyposalivation.
Salivary Gland Swelling: Swelling of the salivary glands is yet another cause for Hyposalivation. Swelling of the salivary gland can occur due to a variety of reasons like infections, conditions like Sjogren Syndrome, tumors, and the like. This swelling of the salivary gland affects production of saliva resulting in Hyposalivation.
What are the Symptoms of Hyposalivation?
Dry mouth is the classic presenting feature of Hyposalivation, but is not the only symptom that is experienced. These symptoms are:
- Diminished taste
- Problems with chewing and swallowing
- Problems with speech
- Tooth decay
- Frequent mouth infections.
How is Hyposalivation Treated?
The treatment for Hyposalivation is dependent on the cause of the condition. Thus, it is very vital to identify as to what is causing Hyposalivation in the first place. Treatment for Hyposalivation may include dietary or lifestyle changes, medication, or in some cases surgery. If Salivary gland stones are the cause of hyposalivation, then that may be flushed out of the body by increasing water intake and slight massage to the salivary glands.
Antibiotics will be prescribed in cases of bacterial infection is causing Hyposalivation. In cases if a tumor is responsible for Hyposalivation then removal of the tumor is required to treat the condition. In case if the tumor is malignant, then the tumor removal may be followed by radiation and chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells that may have remained postsurgery.
There are also certain medications that may be prescribed for treatment of Hyposalivation. These medications are called pilocarpine and cevimeline which help in increasing saliva production. It should be noted here that these medications are only effective if the salivary gland is not damaged due to any other condition that may be causing Hyposalivation.