Medical News Today: What to know about dry mouth at night

The following are some potential causes of dry mouth at night.

Natural variation in saliva production

According to an article in the journal Compendium, a person’s salivary glands typically produce less saliva at night. As a result, some people may notice that their mouths feel drier in the evening.

Treatment:

A doctor may prescribe special mouthwashes that can moisten the mouth and reduce sensations of dry mouth before bedtime.

People should also consider keeping a glass of water by their bedside. If a person wakes up with a dry mouth, drinking some water will help moisten the mouth.

Dehydration

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, an estimated 20% of older adults struggle with dry mouth. In older adults, this condition usually occurs as a result of dehydration or as a side effect of certain medications.

Older adults who wear dentures may find that they no longer fit properly as a result of dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, dentures can rub against the gums, causing sore spots.

Treatment:

A person who experiences dry mouth should visit their doctor or dentist who will help determine the cause of the condition.

If dry mouth is due to the medications a person is taking, the doctor or dentist may recommend changing the dosage or switching to a different drug.

In some cases, people may receive medications to improve the function of the salivary glands.

Medication side effects

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state that more than 400 medicines can reduce the body’s ability to produce saliva. People who take their medications at nighttime may notice their dry mouth symptoms worsening at night.

Some medications that can cause dry mouth include:

Treatment:

A person should see their doctor if they suspect that their medication is causing dry mouth. However, people should not stop taking their medications unless they have their doctor’s approval to do so.

A doctor may suggest lowering the dosage of the medication or taking the drug earlier in the day. Sometimes, a doctor may suggest changing to a different medicine that does not cause dry mouth.

The doctor may also recommend the following:

  • taking medications with plenty of water
  • sipping on water at nighttime
  • chewing on gum to encourage saliva production
  • using a humidifier to release moisture into the air and alleviate sensations of dry mouth

Mouth breathing

Some people wake up during the night and notice that they have an extremely dry mouth. This can be a sign that they have been breathing through their mouth while asleep. Some possible causes of this behavior include:

Treatment:

The treatment for nighttime mouth breathing depends on the underlying cause. We outline the potential causes and their associated treatment options below.

Infections

Antibiotics can help to treat a bacterial infection, while decongestants may help to alleviate any associated sinus congestion.

Allergies

Antihistamines can help to treat allergies, while corticosteroids may also help to relieve any associated nasal inflammation and stuffiness.

Sleep apnea

People who experience sleep apnea may require a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. The CPAP is a mask that fits over the mouth or nose and blows air into the airways to keep them open during sleep.

Although the treatment is effective against sleep apnea, the constant stream of air can actually worsen symptoms of a dry mouth. A person should talk to their doctor or dentist who can adjust the mask or recommend a machine that does not dry out the mouth.

Narrowed nasal passages

In some cases, people who have severe difficulty breathing through their nose may require surgery to widen the nasal passages. This will help to promote airflow through the nasal passages, preventing the need for mouth breathing.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its tear glands and saliva-producing glands. As a result, a person who has Sjogren’s syndrome will typically experience sensations of dry mouth. This symptom may worsen at nighttime when the salivary glands naturally produce less saliva.

People with Sjogren’s syndrome may experience the following symptoms as a result of dry mouth:

  • difficulty swallowing food without a drink
  • pain in the mouth
  • speech problems at night

They may also experience dryness in their eyes, nose, throat, or vagina.

Treatment:

Doctors may prescribe medications to reduce dry mouth and encourage saliva production. Examples include pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac).

A doctor will also encourage people with Sjogren’s syndrome to drink water frequently, and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.

Medical News Today: What to know about ethmoid sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. Ethmoid sinusitis is the inflammation of a specific group of sinuses — the ethmoid sinuses — which sit between the nose and eyes.

The ethmoid sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around the nose. They have a lining of mucus to help prevent the nose from drying out. Inflammation of the ethmoid sinuses can lead to pressure and pain around the nose and between the eyes.

In this article, we look at the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of ethmoid sinusitis and when to see a doctor. We also discuss how to treat and prevent ethmoid sinusitis.

The mucous lining of the sinuses traps dust, germs, and pollutants. When the sinuses become inflamed, the mucus cannot flow normally. Tissue swelling traps mucus in the sinuses, which can allow germs to grow.

In ethmoid sinusitis, this inflammation affects the ethmoid sinuses. People have four groups of sinuses, each of which can become inflamed:

The causes of ethmoid sinusitis will typically be similar to those of other forms of sinusitis. They may include:

  • a viral infection, including the common cold
  • seasonal allergies
  • smoking or secondhand smoke
  • a weakened immune system
  • the narrowing of the nasal passages due to nasal polyps

A person with ethmoid sinusitis may experience many symptoms common to all sinus infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these can include:

  • a runny nose
  • a blocked nose
  • pain around the face
  • a feeling of pressure around the face
  • headaches
  • mucus dripping down into the throat from the nose
  • a sore throat
  • a cough
  • bad breath

In addition, they may experience symptoms specific to ethmoid sinusitis because of the position of these sinuses near the eyes. These symptoms include a swollen, red, or painful eye.

Sinusitis can either be acute, meaning that a person has it for only a short time, or chronic, where it lasts for more than 12 weeks, even with treatment.

As with other types of sinusitis, the most common cause of ethmoid sinusitis is a virus, such as the common cold. In these cases, it will often resolve without a person needing to see a doctor.

According to the CDC, a person should speak to a doctor if:

  • they have very intense symptoms, such as severe pain in the face or a severe headache
  • their symptoms get better but then get worse
  • their symptoms do not get better over more than 10 days
  • they have a fever for more than 3–4 days

When diagnosing ethmoid sinusitis, a doctor will ask the person how they have been feeling and carry out a physical examination to look for the characteristic signs and symptoms of sinusitis. These may include:

  • congestion, obstruction, or blockage in and around the nose
  • significant amounts of mucus in the nose
  • facial pressure or pain

The doctor may also look into the person’s nose, throat, or ears for visible signs of inflammation. After this examination, if the doctor is not certain about the correct diagnosis, they may also insert a thin tube with a light and a camera on the end into the nose to examine the sinus tissues.

Occasionally, a doctor may recommend an X-ray or a CT scan to determine the likely cause of the person’s symptoms.

According to the CDC, a person’s sinus infection will usually get better on its own. However, if a doctor suspects a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics.

The doctor may also prescribe:

  • decongestants to help drain the sinuses
  • antihistamines to reduce inflammation resulting from an allergic reaction
  • nasal steroids to reduce inflammation in and around the nose
  • saline nasal sprays, which increase moisture in the nose
  • pain relievers, if a person’s sinusitis is causing a lot of pain

The CDC also note that home remedies may help some people. They recommend putting a warm compress over the affected area or breathing in steam from a bowl of hot water or a shower.

Read more about how to treat sinus infections here.

People can often prevent sinus infections by taking steps to stay healthy and to help others stay healthy. These include:

  • practicing good hand hygiene
  • getting the recommended vaccines, such as the flu and pneumococcal vaccines
  • avoiding contact with people who currently have an upper respiratory infection, including a cold
  • avoiding smoke and secondhand smoke
  • using a clean humidifier at home to add moisture to the air

Most people should find that ethmoid sinusitis resolves on its own with some basic self-care and home remedies. If a doctor thinks that ethmoid sinusitis is due to a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics, which are usually very effective.

According to an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, if nasal polyps or a problem with the structure of a person’s nasal passage is causing their ethmoid sinusitis, they may require surgery to reduce the likelihood of their ethmoid sinusitis reoccurring.

People may wish to see their doctor for more information about the causes, treatment, and prevention of sinusitis, particularly if the condition is chronic.