I’m three months pregnant and have a terrible problem: I’m drooling all the time. It’s embarrassing. I can’t go anywhere without a towel to soak up my saliva. What’s wrong with me?
You’re suffering from a condition known as ptyalism, copious saliva production. Many women find this annoying in pregnancy, but it can also be distressing and may affect your health. Ptyalism was thought to occur in 1 percent of pregnancies, but a report from the University of Wisconsin at Madison found one in six women noticed excess saliva during pregnancy.
Ptyalism usually begins in the first trimester, and most women who experience it find the volume of saliva doubles. It may be milky, thick or bubbly. The saliva is often bitter and can lead to nausea, vomiting or even weight loss. Besides the increased saliva, women with ptyalism often have a coated or thickened tongues or distended cheeks from swollen salivary glands. It can affect the sense of taste or interfere with swallowing. Nearly one-third of women in the study said it disrupted their sleep and 27 percent said it affected their speech.
While it’s not clear what triggers ptyalism, diet seems to play a large role. Many women find dairy products make their symptoms worse. For others the culprit is starchy foods. The first step in treatment is making changes in your diet to help reduce symptoms. Most women find that eating fruit can do a lot for alleviating symptoms. Sucking on hard candy or using mouthwash can also help by disguising the bad taste of the saliva. There can also be an emotional component to the problem, and counseling may help.
Be sure to let your doctor know about this problem so you can work together toward a solution.