A 2021 survey reported that anxiety troubles about 3.94% of the global population. This number is more than depression and alcohol use disorders. That includes 75.9 million people in the US alone.
With so many people suffering from anxiety, symptoms like dry mouth are common, too.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the condition of dry mouth from anxiety. We will discuss how anxiety can cause dry throat and also the treatment options, many of which you can try at home, to find relief.
Symptoms Of Dry Mouth
Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth happens when your mouth’s salivary glands don’t create enough saliva.
While it’s not a life-threatening condition, dry mouth is a symptom of anxiety which if not taken care of can make life a hassle.
The usual sign of dry mouth is a dry/parched feeling you experience in your mouth.
Other symptoms include cracked lips, dry tongue, bad breath, and dry throat.
If the condition troubles for years, you can notice symptoms like gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores that happen because of the lack of saliva.
You see, saliva is responsible for mineralizing teeth. It also helps maintain the health of the soft and hard tissues in your mouth by washing away food particles. In addition, it neutralizes the acid produced by mouth bacteria. All these functions imply dry mouth is a terrible problem for your dental health.
Causes – Why Does Anxiety Make Your Mouth Dry?
Change in cortisol levels: Your body produces more cortisol – the stress hormone – when you’re anxious. A rise in cortisol levels in your saliva causes its composition to change, resulting in a dry mouth.
Change in fluids: Severe anxiety often leads to panic attacks, which can activate the flight or fight response of your body. When this happens, your body thinks its time has almost come to an end.
To fight this, it starts transferring oxygen and nutrients to the organs which need them more. This means your mouth and throat may not have enough fluids and saliva, as the fluids will get moved to more important places in the body.
Dehydration: Ever experienced excessive sweating when you do something new in life? Whether you go up to a stage to perform something or ask a girl out, your body experiences anxiety, evident through sweaty palms and forehead.
This sweating, however, can cause a fluid and electrolyte imbalance in the body, causing dehydration. And that can further cause dry mouth.
Additionally, people with anxiety also forget to drink enough water, risking dehydration.
Acid reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disorder in which stomach acid runs back up into the esophagus.
During times of high stress and worry, your body is more prone to acid reflux. And that can harm your salivary glands and cause reduced saliva production. Thus, causing dry mouth.
Breathing through the mouth: The healthiest and most effective way to breathe in through your nose. But when you’re nervous, stressed, or anxious, you’re more inclined to breathe via your mouth.
The problem with mouth breathing is not just that it’s not great for deep breathing. The air that enters your mouth also dries out the saliva, causing dry mouth and making way for more problems related to it.
Medication for anxiety: Many anxiety-relieving medications can block involuntary muscle movements as a side effect. One example is saliva production. Thus, leading to dry mouth.
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Treatment – How To Stop Dry Mouth Anxiety?
You can try the following ways to dry mouth anxiety cure:
- Ask your doctor to replace your medications with those that don’t have dry mouth as a side effect. You can also ask them to increase therapy (like cognitive behavioral therapy) and reduce the medications.
- Chew gum: It will help stimulate saliva production while also helping manage anxiety. It’s best if this gum is sugar-free for general health reasons.
- Meditate: Meditation can help you have some control over your thoughts. That is necessary to relieve anxiety and thus the dry mouth associated with it.
- Don’t consume excessive salt or coffee as they can be dehydrating.
- Do breathing exercises like the Anulom Vilom Pranayama. Try to breathe more through your nose than your mouth.
- Try journaling to reduce anxiety.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol as they can be dehydrating.
- It is best to avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol as they can suck the moisture from your mouth. Look for alcohol-free mouthwashes instead.
- Try artificial saliva in the form of oral rinse, spray, gel, or dissolving tablet. In its simplest form, artificial saliva replaces the natural one in the mouth by moistening it temporarily. It helps prevent harmful conditions that can result from chronic dry mouth by creating a protective film in the mouth.
- Drink electrolyte water or consume electrolyte foods. Electrolytes will help keep the fluid balance.
Dry mouth from anxiety is not too bad a condition, yet it’s annoying and can cause much trouble. But now that we have explained how anxiety can cause dry throat and the several ways of dry mouth anxiety treatment, you can get back to making your life as fun and easy as a walk in the park.
In case you have any questions unanswered, don’t forget to ask them in the comments below.