Have you ever woken up with a crazy dry mouth and throat? Or felt like you constantly needed to sip water during the day to get rid of that annoying dry feeling in your mouth? I feel you. I’ve totally been there myself. And it turns out acid reflux could be to blame for your parched mouth.
Acid reflux, also known as GERD, is when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus and throat. This backwash of acid can cause problems like heartburn, regurgitation, and nausea – not fun. But get this – many people don’t realize reflux can also lead to dry mouth symptoms indirectly. Let me explain.
How Reflux Causes a Dry Mouth
There are a few sneaky ways that acid reflux can make your mouth and throat feel drier than the Sahara.
First, the backflow of stomach acid can directly irritate your salivary glands and make them produce less spit. Your salivary glands are supposed to pump out saliva constantly to keep your mouth lubed up. But when exposed to stomach acid, these glands can get inflamed and slow their roll on producing moisture.
Reflux may also make you drink less liquid during the day to avoid heartburn. But this leads to you being dehydrated and your oral tissues getting dried out. Dehydration is a big cause of reduced saliva flow, also called hyposalivation.
And all that constant throat clearing from reflux irritation? That makes you swallow more, which decreases your saliva levels even more.
Acid Reflux Increases Your Risk of Dry Mouth
Studies have shown connections between acid reflux and low saliva flow. People with acid reflux are way more likely to have chronic dry mouth symptoms compared to others without reflux disease.
One study in the Journal of Medical Sciences looked at saliva flow in people with and without GERD. Researchers found that those with acid reflux were three times more likely to have reduced spit production and dry mouth complaints.
Another study had patients with nighttime GERD fill out questionnaires about symptoms. Most reported having worse dry mouth symptoms overall compared to folks without nighttime reflux.
So if you have regular acid reflux, you probably have an increased chance of dealing with an annoying dry mouth too. And get this – the two conditions make each other even worse.
Dry Mouth from Reflux Worsens Heartburn
When your saliva production drops, you lose saliva’s natural benefits for preventing reflux symptoms. Saliva helps clear acid from your esophagus, so with a dry mouth, more acid just hangs out there and gives you heartburn and throat irritation. Saliva also has compounds that help neutralize stomach acid.
Not having enough saliva can also make it harder to chew and swallow food properly. When you can’t chew and swallow normally, foods are more likely to stick in your throat and trigger reflux.
So dry mouth related to acid reflux can make it even easier for stomach acid to back up and bother you with GERD symptoms. It’s a nasty cycle.
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Get Relief From Dry Mouth Caused by Acid Reflux
If you think acid reflux is robbing your mouth of moisture, there are several tips you can try to get relief from both dryness and reflux.
First, avoid anything that can further dehydrate your mouth and aggravate acid reflux – things like caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and smoking can all dry out the mouth. Additionally, try to stay well hydrated by sipping on fluids regularly throughout the day – frequent sips of water will help keep saliva production going.
Furthermore, consider using over-the-counter oral moisturizing sprays or lozenges to coat and lubricate the mouth.
Moreover, you may want to consult your doctor about medications to treat the acid reflux itself – options like antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can help reduce reflux episodes.
Also, be mindful of eating smaller, slower meals – large portions put more pressure on the esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to back up, so smaller meals can help prevent this.
In addition, avoid eating too close to bedtime – give yourself a buffer of 2-3 hours between your last meal and lying down to minimize nighttime reflux.
Finally, try elevating your upper body with extra pillows when sleeping, as this keeps your head raised and lessens reflux. With a combination of these lifestyle changes and treatments, you can find relief from dry mouth and acid reflux.
Dealing with constant dry mouth and acid reflux sucks, I know. But paying attention to your reflux might help you as it is a culprit behind your dry mouth. Combining reflux remedies with dry mouth relief tips can help get your mouth feeling moist again and prevent the acid reflux from getting worse.
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