Does everyone with Parkinson’s disease struggle with drooling?
A columnist responds to her dad's concern about the symptom
Drooling is embarrassing. I’ve caught myself spacing out with a trickle of saliva slipping out of my lips before. I can’t help but peer around the room to see if anyone noticed. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this.
My dad recently explained to me that he gets nervous about drooling. While it’s not currently a huge issue for him, he has noticed other people with Parkinson’s disease struggling with drooling. And he wants to do everything he can to prevent this symptom from affecting his life.
So he asked me to help him find solutions. He wanted to know: Why does drooling happen? Does everyone with Parkinson’s disease drool? And are there at-home remedies or exercises that can help to prevent it?
Why does drooling happen?
There are a few different reasons why drooling might happen for people with Parkinson’s disease. Some experience an overproduction of saliva. Others might have difficulty swallowing, which is known as dysphagia. This symptom is relatively common among those with neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.
Drooling is commonly reported among Parkinson’s patients, along with changes in chewing and swallowing. As those vital activities become more difficult, it can affect a patient’s ability to prevent drooling. But not everyone experiences this symptom.
I encouraged Dad to talk to his neurologist about his concerns, since they seem to cause anxiety. I also hope that he’ll take his fate into his own hands and experiment with anti-drooling exercises to see if a particular strategy might help. I know he sometimes struggles to swallow, so it makes sense that he might benefit from some facial and throat exercises.
Some people experience relief from drooling by strengthening the lips and throat muscles. Parkinson’s UK suggests practicing large grins, puckering the lips, and blowing air into the cheeks to strengthen facial muscles. Implementing resistance training for the tongue could also help improve swallowing.
The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends sucking on hard candy or chewing gum. “Candy and gum activate the jaw and the automatic swallowing reflex and can help clear saliva, providing temporary relief from drooling,” the foundation notes.
Dad mentioned that he does suck on hard candy sometimes, and it seems to help activate his jaw and prompt swallowing.
The foundation also lists several medications that might help to reduce saliva production. Always speak with your doctor before starting or stopping any type of treatment.
Do you or someone you love experience drooling as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease? If you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.