Dry mouth has numerous causes, including:

  • Medications. Hundreds of medications, including some over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medications, anti-diarrheals, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, and Parkinson's disease medications.
  • Aging. Getting older isn't a risk factor for dry mouth on its own; however, older people are more likely to be taking medications that may cause dry mouth. Also, older people are more likely to have other health conditions that may cause dry mouth.
  • Cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production.
  • Nerve damage. An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area also can result in xerostomia.
  • Other health conditions. Dry mouth can be a consequence of certain health conditions — or their treatments — including the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS, anxiety disorders and depression. Stroke and Alzheimer's disease may cause a perception of dry mouth, even though the salivary glands are functioning normally. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to the problem.
  • Tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
Apr. 07, 2011