any solutions to excess saliva??!

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Suzanna, May 26, 2008.

  1. Suzanna

    Suzanna Registered User

    Dec 5, 2007
    Hi all, hope everyone is well,

    quick question, my Mum often forgets to swallow saliva these days, this combined with poor lip seal closure is often resulting in quite excessive dribbling (for want of a better word).
    Not only does this mean following her around with a tissue and clothes getting dirty very quickly, the other day i was out pushing mum along the beach and a (much older but cognitively bright old lady) saying to me "it's a shame isn't it?" looking at mum, (i replied "yes it is windy isn't it?" and walked on).
    Point being, i know mum would have hated people looking at her any ideas?

    i know at work we have patches for some of the kids which goes on their neck and helps reduce saliva, but as i think it is a forgetting to swallow rather than a producing too much saliva issue i'm not sure if these would be suitable? Does anyone have any experience of these (or anything else) being used with people with dementia?

    all thoughts massively appreciated


    PS: mum just looked at me in a rare moment of vague clarity and said "i don't know you do i?" me - "well actually you gave birth to me about 23 years ago...." mum - *look of bewilderment and a vague laugh*.... oh dear!
  2. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Suzanna

    this is common and a worrying thing to observe.

    I don't know of a solution - there are 4-5 residents in my Jan's home who drool continually. The only solution seems to be that wipe-up operation.

    For me, it is one of the worst manifestations of dementia, distressing to behold.

    Fortunately Jan doesn't normally do it.

    I'd be interested for any solutions someone else might provide.
  3. gigi

    gigi Registered User

    Nov 16, 2007
    East Midlands

    Hello Suzanna,

    My husband..(age 71) dribbles..not continuously...but when he walks..(with difficulty these days)

    And when he sleeps...In the morning his pillow and pyjama jacket are sodden..

    I use "pillow protectors"..wash them deal with that problem..

    And carry tissues with me ..and try to keep the outside of his mouth dry with the best means at my disposal. Before I realised that this was one of the "outward" signs of dementia..therefore did not deal with it..he used to become very sore around his mouth..

    So..Vaseline to protect the skin on the outside...frequent change of outer wet garments..or a towel to absorb.

    It doesn't matter what other people think..making sure mum is dry and comfortable..and saving her from excessive changes of clothing is the best thing you can do for her.

    Would it be possible to make scarves for your mum out of absorbent material? What about knitting up cotton yarn ..or finding colourful tea-towels and stitching them together to make a scarf...that would be absorbent. Easier to do that for a woman than a man..

    There are medications available to decrease the saliva..but the side effects can be counter-productive...

    As Bruce has's not pleasant for the observer..but it doesn't seem to cause Eric main concern is to protect his skin against the effects of this and to keep him comfortable..

    And to help him to hold on to his dignity....:)

    Love gigi xx
  4. Sandy

    Sandy Registered User

    Mar 23, 2005
    Hi Suzanna,

    I don't have a lot of first-hand experience with this. Have you asked for a referral to a speech and language therapist? They're the professionals who normally deal with swallowing difficulties.

    I came across a very useful document (in PDF format) that relates to Parkison's, but it seems that a lot of the information is also relevant to people with dementia:

    The idea of making some absorbent scarves sounds very good. There are adult bibs available which have waterproof backing - for example:

    Take care,

  5. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Mum was also eventually given patches to help with the problem of 'dribbling'......i suggest you speak to the GP about this.
  6. Suzanna

    Suzanna Registered User

    Dec 5, 2007

    Thanks for everyones responses,

    at the moment, mum's skin isn't irritated by the saliva, it is more for her dignity really.

    I have actually just qualified as a speech and language therapist, but nowhere in the four years did we cover excess saliva (well, not in people who are unable to practice exercises to improve lip seal closure!).

    I think i will indeed speak to the GP about patches, but obviously be aware of any side effects,

    did you find they worked well?

  7. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    #7 Nebiroth, May 28, 2008
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
    It's worth remembering that (as with most things) production of saliva is controlled by the brain. Dementia causes damage to the brain, and in different areas for different people. So it's quite possible that there is excessive saliva production; for example, everyone will have noticed that stimuli (such as smell) can trigger saliva production as part of the process of preparing to eat. the "mouth watering" factor! Maybe in this case there is an inappropriate stimulus from the brain.

    So it's possible that Mum has a comination of factors, such as excessive production, plus a reduced ability to swallow.

    Saliva can cause skin problems, because it contains an enzyme cally amylase that helpt to digest food; it can also cause the skin to break down (the skin inside our mouths is different so it's not affected). Particularly if the skin is contantly being wiped or dabbed.

    There are medications that can reduce saliva, such as atropine, but they can have unpleasant side effects and make swalling more of a problem.

    It;s worth seeing the GP though.
  8. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Suzanna,
    The patches did reduce the saliva.....but mum was too advanced in her dementia for us to know if there were any unpleasant side effects for her..
  9. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #9 Margarita, May 28, 2008
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
    Sorry I can't offer any advice , but I hope you don't mind me jumping in , but does make me wonder if that why my mother keep spiting on the floor ? because she forgetting to swallow her saliva

    she seem to have so much saliva of late , but no cold or anything , but spit it all out on the floor

    I say don't spit on the floor ask me for a tissue .

    The other day I phone AZ day centre about something , where the Lady said , its a shame really that your mother losing her social skill now , so I ask her why what have you notices?

    She said that she now spiting on the floor another client said how disgusting that is (I felt really hurt for mum when she said that , as if my mother was awarer what she was doing she never of done that in public place )

    Just wondering my mother still remember how to spit , will she lose the ability to spit so go on to dribbling badly, because she can't swallow her saliva during te day ?

    because I am wondering why my mother spiting . she never spit like that before she got a AZ/VA

    when mum sleeping wake up she has a lot of saliva all over her face .
  10. Gwenno

    Gwenno Registered User

    Jun 18, 2006
    excess saliva

    My husband suffered with this problem, and he was given tablets to rectify the problem. I do not know what they are called
    but they did help, and he does not "dribble" any longer. Perhaps you could ask your Doctor about this.

    I hope this helps


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