If you've ever wondered "can allergies cause dry mouth?", you might have struggled to find a concrete answer. Allergic reactions themselves don't give you dry mouth, but several factors relating to allergies can lead to this side effect. So the answer to the question is yes: allergies can indirectly result in dryness of the mouth (also known as xerostomia), along with all the potential complications that accompany the condition.
Links Between Allergies and Dry Mouth
There are three primary links between allergic reactions and a dry mouth, including:
- Allergic rhinitis–which is caused by a significant number of allergies – is a common culprit, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). This results in congestion of the sinus cavity. When your nasal passages are blocked, you're forced to breathe through your mouth more than usual. Your mouth tissues then become dry from constant contact with air and the presence of bacteria.
- The lack of fluids that accompanies allergic rhinitis can make you become mildly dehydrated.
- Antihistamines, which are recommended by physicians and pharmacists to treat allergies, are a known cause of dry mouth.
How Dry Mouth Affects Your Health
Having a dry mouth for a short time isn't likely to have a long-lasting effect on your health, but if you have chronic allergies, it's possible you'll suffer from dry mouth for many years. This can cause problems for both your oral and overall health, says the Oral Cancer Foundation. Potential issues include a persistent sore throat and hoarseness, along with difficulty swallowing and speaking (which, according to the Mayo Clinic, could negatively affect your diet) as well as the development of plaque – resulting in dental cavities and gum disease. In addition, you could experience mouth and canker sores and/or infections in your mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
It's not difficult to recognize the symptoms of dry mouth. They can include a dry sensation in your throat that makes it hard for you to swallow, along with problems speaking, chewing or tasting your food. You may also have a dry tongue and cracked lips, as well as sores or infections in your mouth tissues, including the sides of the tongue and the inside of your cheeks.
Experiencing any of these symptoms would be a reason to visit your doctor. If you're taking medication for your allergies, it's possible this is making the problem worse. Instead of asking your doctor "can allergies cause dry mouth?" it might be in your interest to discuss your antihistamine instead.
Treatment and Prevention
It's almost impossible to avoid allergic reactions completely, but you can treat them with antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants, among other remedies, says the AAFA. Some patients find relief through naturopathic treatments and alternative options such as acupuncture, while others benefit from the use of alcohol-free mouth rinses like Colgate® Enamel Health™ Mouthwash, which can be used twice a day.
For the majority, however, it comes down to choosing between suffering with dry mouth caused by medication or their original allergy. The latter can be dangerous to your health and still give you dry mouth through dehydration and congestion. Your best bet is to discuss the problem with your doctor and try to find an antihistamine that has fewer effects on your mouth, and to maintain your oral hygiene through the use of products specially formulated for this purpose.