Saliva is a watery substance that is secreted into the mouth by glands. It provides lubrication so we can comfortably chew our food before gulping. This indirectly helps us digest our food effectively. While they are not supposed to have a rich consistency, there can be times when you wonder why is my saliva so thick and sticky.
For starters, there is nothing to worry about. It is common to have sticky or thick saliva. It happens frequently when we suffer from flu or cold and cough.
The presence of increased mucus often makes our saliva sticky. Also, we are forced to breathe through our mouths due to blocked nostrils. This makes our mouths dry, thus making our saliva even more sticky.
Apart from the common cold, there can be various reasons behind sticky or thick saliva. These include medications, diseases, and environmental conditions such as extreme pollution.
So, next time you wonder why is my saliva so thick, be prepared to run through several analyses. The one you identify most with must be the one relevant to you.
Table of Contents
Why is my spit so thick
Before dissecting the various reasons behind thick saliva, let us understand a little more about saliva itself. Saliva is an extracellular fluid that is secreted in the oral cavity. It comprises minerals, proteins, mucus, water, and amylase.
Our spit helps to keep our mouths clean and aids in digestion. It also helps us chew our food. Now, there can be a plethora of reasons why is my saliva so thick. Here are some of these reasons:
1. Radiation Therapy
People suffering from cancer usually go through radiation therapy. The radiation is generally effective in killing the cancerous cells in such patients. However, while killing cancerous cells, some healthy cells also get affected. The killing of these cells leads to many side effects that patients with chemotherapy commonly suffer.
For instance, there is loss of hair, soreness in the mouth, dryness in the mouth, thickness or stickiness of saliva, and stiffness in the jaw. Hence, chemotherapy can be one of the reasons behind sticky saliva
2. Motor Neuron Disease
This disease affects different parts of the nervous system. Motor neurons are nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells help us eat, swallow, talk, move, and breathe.
Unfortunately, those suffering from neurogenerative disorders usually have inactive motor neurons. This leads to many side effects, such as weight loss, shortness of breath, muscle pain, etc. It can also cause difficulty in breathing, thick saliva, and many other physical issues.
3. Cystic Fibrosis
This is a genetically inherited disease that massively affects the digestive system. It also affects everything else that is connected to our digestion. For instance, our saliva. This disease takes a toll on various body organs, including the pancreas, lungs, liver, kidneys, and intestines.
It also affects the digestive juices that aid the process of digestion in our bodies. Also, other digestion-related fluids in our body are affected apart from saliva. For instance, mucus and sweat.
Hence, this condition especially causes our saliva to thicken and becomes sticky at the same time.
4. Salivary gland stones
Coming to the various reasons behind why is my saliva so thick, here is another condition. Also known as salivary duct stones or Sialothiasis, it causes crystalline substances to form in the salivary gland.
While its exact causes are largely unknown, the accumulation of minerals in the salivary duct is believed to lead to this disease. Hence, this disorder or condition also leads to sticky saliva.
This is one of the most common reasons behind the thickening or stickiness of saliva. Due to our hectic schedules, we need to pay more attention to the importance of drinking water in our daily lives. This is one of the most common reasons behind dehydration which lead to thick or sticky saliva. Also, excessive heat and urination can lead to dehydration too.
Health issues such as loose motions, diarrhea, and vomiting can often lead to dehydration. All of these issues lead to the absorption of moisture from the saliva. Hence, these issues cause our saliva to become thick. Dehydration makes the body incapable of replenishing the minerals in the mouth due to the lack of moisture. As a result, our saliva becomes thick.
6. Side effects of other medications
For those of you wondering why is my saliva so thick, here is yet another reason. People on medications for some or other ailment usually have sticky saliva. These medications typically absorb humidity or moisture from the saliva, thus making it thick or sticky. Some medicines that can cause stickiness are diuretics, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, decongestants, and antidepressants.
Uncommon reasons that causes thick saliva
Apart from those mentioned above, there are some more reasons that leads to thick saliva. While these reasons are not as common as the ones mentioned above, you should asses these too:
While most people would usually not connect diabetes with sticky or thick saliva, it happens to be common. Thick saliva is a common side effect found in diabetic patients. Even pregnant women who are diagnosed with diabetes at gestation can suffer from the problem of the thickness of saliva.
Smoking absorbs moisture from our saliva, making it thick. It also creates increased mucus production, which leads to a feeling of stickiness.
Allergies and colds can often lead to moisture absorption from our mouths. The nasal drip caused by a stuffy nose leads to mucus traveling down our throat. This mucus then settles inside our mouths. Hence, it leads to thick saliva as well.
How to Rid Yourself of Thick Saliva?
The most important thing to understand here is if you know the main or underlying cause behind sticky saliva, you will automatically address it first. This will help eliminate the issue.
Additionally, there are specific changes that you can introduce in your daily regime. This will help you erase the health issues that you go through due to a lack of disciplinary lifestyle and habits. So, here are some basic steps that can be taken:
1. Drinking a lot of water
As dehydration is one of the most common causes behind thick saliva, it is essential to address and eliminate this issue. The easiest way is to drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. This will automatically reduce the thickness of your saliva.
2. Chew your food well
This is another reason we might have thick saliva. When we don’t chew our food properly, we tend to have remnants in our mouths. This can often absorb water from or oral area, thus leading to dryness. Hence, we must chew our food well and clean our mouths thoroughly.
3. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
Both alcohol and tobacco cause dryness in the mouth. These substances also cause extreme dehydration. Hence, it is essential to reduce the intake of both substances.
4. Changes is medicines
If one of the existing medications you are taking has thick saliva as a side effect, you must contact your doctor. Try going for an alternative that doesn’t have the same side effect. As per your doctor, this can effectively reduce thick saliva if this bodes well for you.
5. Eat high-fiber fruits and vegetables
Such food items have high moisture content. Hence, eating these will ensure you are always hydrated. As a result, your problem of thick saliva will get eliminated.
Home Remedies for Treating Thick Saliva
Apart from lifestyle changes, many home remedies prove to be effective. This help reduces the stickiness of your saliva, and you can also avoid going to the doctor. Here are some remedies for you:
1. Avoid using mouthwashes that have high alcohol content
As mentioned above too, alcohol taken in any shape or form can lead to thick saliva. Hence, it is best to switch to an alternative mouthwash that has little to no alcohol content. Continue to use mouthwash with alcohol content. It will keep increasing dryness in your mouth, thus making your saliva thick.
2. Install a humidifier in your room
The best way to ensure your saliva is not thick is to keep your mouth moist or hydrated. Due to the climatic conditions, it is challenging to maintain moisture in your mouth in some geographical regions. Hence, it is vital to install a humidifier to moisturize your body, essentially your nose and mouth.
3. Good Oral Hygiene
While this may not seem like a very important reason, you must make a note of this point. Most of us ignore or minimize the importance of oral hygiene. However, keeping our mouths clean and free of food remnants is essential. Also, you must avoid alcoholic mouthwash and brush your teeth twice daily. These are little steps that can ensure good oral hygiene.
4. Reduce intake of caffeine
We all love waking up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning. And then we drink a few more cups of coffee during the day. With so much work and fast-paced life, keeping track of or counting the number of cups you gulp down is usually tricky. However, coffee contains a substance called caffeine. Apart from many other issues, it also causes dryness in the mouth. This leads to sticky saliva and makes it difficult for you to swallow your food quickly.
Is Thick Saliva a Major Health Issue?
While thick saliva is not a significant health issue and doesn’t usually prove fatal, it can be quite uncomfortable. Thickness of saliva can lead to mucus deposition in your mouth. This can make it difficult for you to swallow your food comfortably. It can often lead to discomfort in breathing.
Also, if your saliva is thick, it loses its ability to wash out germs in your mouth easily. As a result, these germs keep getting deposited in your mouth. This can lead to harmful gum infections and diseases. This can also lead to the decaying of your teeth. Hence, you must consult your doctor and consult him or her for the appropriate medication to treat this condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Does cancer lead to the thickness of saliva?
No, cancer does not lead to the thickness of saliva. It is patients who go through chemotherapy usually suffer from thick saliva as a side effect.
2. What are some home remedies to treat the thickness of saliva?
Some home remedies include drinking sufficient water, sucking on ice chips, using a humidifier, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
3. What are some common causes of thick saliva?
Some common causes of thick saliva are smoking, drinking, dehydration, radiation therapy/chemotherapy, and stuffy nose.
4. What diseases are responsible for the thickness of saliva?
Some diseases with thick saliva as a side effect include diabetes, the common cold, Salivary gland stones, and cystic fibrosis.
If you still find white stringy stuff in mouth when you wake up, get yourself tested and consult your GP asap. An expert will be able to quickly give you answers to questions like “why is my saliva so thick and foamy?” If you already know the reasons from the points above, take measures to fix the condition.