Drooling is saliva flowing outside the mouth.
Drooling is generally caused by:
- Problems keeping saliva in the mouth
- Problems with swallowing
- Too much saliva production
Some people with drooling problems are at increased risk of breathing saliva, food, or fluids into the lungs. This may cause harm if there is a problem with the body's normal reflexes (such as gagging and coughing).
Drooling caused by nervous system (neurologic) problems can often be managed with drugs that block the action of the chemical messenger acetylcholine (anticholinergic drugs). In severe cases, people can reduce drooling by injecting botulism toxin, getting high-energy x-rays (radiation) to the glands in the mouth that make saliva (salivary glands), and other methods.
Some drooling in infants and toddlers is normal and is not usually a sign of a disease or other problem. It may occur with teething. Drooling in infants and young children may get worse with upper respiratory infections and nasal allergies.
Drooling that occurs with fever or trouble swallowing may be a sign of a more serious disease, including:
Mononucleosis Peritonsillar abscess Retropharyngeal abscess Strep throat Tonsillitis
Sudden drooling may occur with poisoning (especially by pesticides) or a reaction to snake or insect venom.
Other things that can cause drooling:
- Certain medications
- Nervous system (neurological) problems
Review Date: 02/07/2010
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.