What Causes a Dry Mouth?

Everyone experiences a dry mouth from time to time. You can develop a dry mouth due to a number of reasons – with the most common causes being stress and dehydration. Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands fail to work as they should. If you’re a smoker, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, or are undergoing cancer treatment (such as radiation and/or chemotherapy), it is not uncommon to develop dry mouth.

Certain autoimmune disorders, like Sjogren’s syndrome, can also cause a dry mouth, as can certain medications. In fact, there are over 500 medications known to cause dry mouth, including but not limited to antihistamines, antidepressants, antiemetics, medications used to control blood pressure, as well as sedatives. If you do develop a dry mouth and suspect it may be a result of a medication that you are taking, Dr. Ali Ghahary notes that it is important for patients to know that they should not abruptly stop medications before checking with their family doctor or pharmacist. If medication is a suspected cause of dry mouth, your physician may be able to alter its dosage to see if that makes any difference, or might even recommend a different medication all together.

There are also certain things that doctors, dentists and pharmacists also suggest patients try themselves for relief of dry mouth. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy can often help to stimulate the salivary glands, drinking plenty of water during the day, as well as using a humidifier in your home – especially at night. Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse can also help.

If these home remedies are not helpful and you find that you are still suffering from a dry mouth, your doctor and/or dentist may need to prescribe you with a medication to help the function of the salivary glands, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions – like Sjogren’s syndrome – as mentioned above, in addition to lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Treating whatever the underlying cause is will often resolve other associated problems.

Follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram for more facts on dry mouth, as well as for more information on oral hygiene.

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Avoiding Misdiagnosis

While the exact number of misdiagnosed patients is unknown, it is, unfortunately, something that can occur in healthcare. A misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences and can even be fatal, which is why it is imperative for physicians to come up with the correct diagnosis.

In order for a diagnosis to be accurate, patients and healthcare providers, such as doctors, lab workers, nurses and other specialists, should work together as a team. It is also important for physicians to build a good rapport with patients. This will also allow for open and honest communication – something that is extremely important to Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary. On his website, alighaharyvancouver.ca, Dr. Ghahary discusses why it is so crucial to build trust in the doctor-patient relationship. In utilizing a gentle and compassionate approach, he has quickly become one of the top-rated doctors in Vancouver today.

Dr. Ali Ghahary understands that it is important to take the healthcare complaints of patients seriously.

Patients can also play a significant role in helping physicians be able to accurately diagnose any ailments…

First and foremost, never hesitate to ask questions. There is absolutely NO question that you could ask that would be considered wrong, stupid or embarrassing, especially when it pertains to your health.

Secondly, you should be precise about describing any symptoms that you may be experiencing; for example, if you have a sore eye, do not just say, “I have a sore eye.” Is it red? Itchy? Painful? Letting your doctor know exactly how you feel is of the utmost importance. You should also track your symptoms. For instance, if you suffer from chronic migraines, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients keep what is known as a migraine diary. As migraine intensity and symptoms can vary from one day to the next, keeping track of them will help give your physician a better understanding of exactly how migraines affect you, what some of the common triggers are, and what kind of treatment is best suited for you. A great app to help keep track of migraines is Migraine Buddy, which is available for download on Google Play (Android) or the App Store (iPhone.)

Lastly, keep an up-to-date list of all medications. You should be aware of exactly what you’re taking and why, the dosing instructions, and you should also be aware of any potential side-effects or interactions with any other medication.