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Xerostomia.

Synonyms:—Dry mouth; aptyalism.

Definition:—Partial or complete suspension of the salivary secretion.

Etiology:—This condition occurs during the course of severe fevers and acute inflammatory disease. It is common in some forms of chronic disease, notably in diabetes, and in those who necessarily breathe through the mouth, especially if the glands do not act freely normally. The condition may be due to nervous shock or to severe mental impression, in females, especially during hysteria. In these cases it is a neurosis.

Symptomatology:—The mouth and tongue are dry, and mastication, swallowing and talking are difficult and often somewhat distressing. The tongue is red and often cracked, and the mucous membranes of the mouth are red, glazed, fissured and tender. The digestion is impaired, the appetite is lost, and symptoms of gastric or gastrointestinal disorder may appear.

Treatment:—Immediate relief during protracted fevers is obtained from the use of glycerin diluted with two or three parts of water, to which a little lemon juice or a few drops of hydrochloric acid are added. The indications are often those which are allayed by the use of acids internally, and this course frequently restores the temporarily suspended secretion. The use of jaborandi every two hours, in five minim doses will sustain the secretion while the conditions continue which cause the suppression. Occasionally large doses of this agent will temporarily restore it, but this may result in excessive secretion for a short time, to be followed by even more complete suppression.

The use of chewing gum during fevers is often of signal service in restoring the salivary secretions, and is not disagreeable to the patient. Small doses of turpentine will effectually restore secretion often. When the condition is plainly a neurosis, the nervous system must receive attention, and restorative tonics must be resorted to. The galvanic current is often productive of satisfactory results, especially if used in conjunction with other indicated measures.


The Eclectic Practice of Medicine with especial reference to the Treatment of Disease, 1910, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.



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