Drooling is saliva flowing outside the mouth.
Drooling is generally caused by:
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).
Some drooling in infants and toddlers is normal. It may occur with teething. Drooling in infants and young children may get worse with colds and allergies.
Drooling may happen if your body makes too much saliva. Infections can cause this, including:
Other conditions that can cause too much saliva are:
Drooling may also be caused by nervous system disorders that make it hard to swallow. Examples are:
Popsicles or other cold objects (such as frozen bagels) may be helpful for young children who are drooling while teething. Take care to avoid choking when a child uses any of these objects.
For those with chronic drooling:
Call your health care provider if:
The health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
Testing depends on a person's overall health and other symptoms.
A speech therapist can determine if the drooling increases the risk of breathing in food or fluids into the lungs. This is called aspiration. This may include information about:
Drooling caused by nervous system problems can often be managed with drugs that reduce saliva production. Different drops, patches, pills or liquid medicines may be tried.
If you have severe drooling, the health care provider may recommend:
Salivation; Excessive saliva; Too much saliva; Sialorrhea
Hess JM, Lowell MJ. Esophagus, stomach, duodenum. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2014:chap 89.
Melio FR, Berge LR. Upper respiratory tract infections. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2014:chap 75.
Gingrich C, Carroll W. Neurology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 42.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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