Excessive Salivation in Pregnancy


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For many women, excessive salivation may be one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. In some, it can even occur before the first missed menstrual periods.

Excessive salivation is called 'Ptyalism' or 'Sialorrhea'. It is more common in the first trimester and in women with Hyperemesis gravidarum - a condition in which there is severe nausea and vomiting.

Many women complain that it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings that they encounter during their pregnancy. They have their mouth full of spit at all times of the day. Spitting does not help as the mouth fills up almost at once. Some even say that they are afraid to speak, afraid that someone would say - 'Say it, don't spray it'.

A few women even complain that they drool at night, waking up in the morning with their cheeks and neck covered with spit.

A metallic taste sometimes accompanies the excessive salivation, spoiling their appetite.

Excessive salivation can be due to excess production of saliva or decreased swallowing of saliva.

Causes of Excessive Salivation

The exact cause is not known. But it is believed to be due to a combination of many different factors.

  • Hormonal Surges: The high levels of progesterone and estrogen in the body during pregnancy stimulate the salivary glands leading to excessive salivation.

  • Indigestion and Hyperacidity: Acid reflux can occur from the stomach into the esophagus during pregnancy. This can irritate the salivary glands causing more saliva secretion. The body also tends to produce more saliva in order to dilute the acid and reduce the heartburn. This cause is supported by the fact that woman with heartburn suffer from excessive salivation more than other women.

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    Pregnancy Book

  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a condition in which the pregnant woman suffers from severe nausea and vomiting, much more severe than the nausea and vomiting suffered during normal morning sickness. It may even necessitate hospitalization. The excessive nausea may prevent her from swallowing since swallowing causes more nausea.

  • Irritants Irritants like smoke, tooth decay and other oral infections, certain medicines, exposure to toxins such as mercury and pesticides can also cause excessive salivation.

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What you can do about Excessive Salivation

Excessive salivation continues for the first three months and clears up spontaneously at around the 14th week of pregnancy. In some women, it can continue till about the 20th week.

  • You can carry around a cup to spit into from time to time.

  • Rinse your mouth with ice-cold water or keep an ice-chip in your mouth.

  • Drink plenty of water to make up for the fluid you are losing as spit.

  • A Dental Checkup will help identify any tooth disease which could be causing the excessive salivation.

  • Soft paper towels can be used to mop the mouth from time to time.

  • A minty mouthfreshener or chewing on a minty sugarless gum can help to decrease salivation.

  • Sucking on a lime or sipping cool lemon juice can help both to reduce salivation as well as provide you with fluids, minerals and vitamins.

  • Crunchy fruits like apples also help to a great extent.

  • Brushing the teeth with a mint flavored toothpaste can decrease salivation.

  • Cut back on sugary foods and sweets since sugar tends to increase saliva production.

  • Medicines can be prescribed by your doctor if the salivation is too severe and very uncomfortable.

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    Pregnancy Book

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