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Dry mouth is not a condition reserved for those who are scared of public speaking; the condition can affect just about anyone. While it might not sound like the most serious of side effects, dry mouth can be very uncomfortable for those who constantly struggle with it. A lack of saliva can lead to discomfort, dental decay and even pain, so it’s important to understand chronic dry mouth causes.

1. Medication

As noted by the Mayo Clinic, certain medications list dry mouth as a side effect, particularly those used to treat depression and anxiety, muscle relaxants, medication for Parkinson’s disease and antihistamines used to treat colds and allergies. If your dry mouth started when you began to take a new type of medication, you should talk to your doctor about the side effects. Unfortunately, you might be stuck with the dry mouth if your medication is necessary, so try keeping a pack of sugar-free gum or mints in your pocket. Chewing gum can help stimulate saliva flow so that your medication doesn’t leave you feeling completely parched.

If you’re in cancer treatment, you should know that chemotherapy and radiation both cause dry mouth in some patients.

2. Smoking and Drinking

If you smoke or drink, dry mouth might follow after happy hour. That’s because smoking can slow down saliva production, and alcohol can dry out the mouth and aggravate your symptoms. Poor saliva production, coupled with dry mouth and tobacco use, can easily lead to a troublesome case of bad breath as well. The best way to deal with dry mouth after a night on the town? Quit using tobacco products altogether. Smoking can lead to lung damage, tooth decay, heart disease and other issues, so a little dry mouth is the least of your worries. And, if you do drink alcohol, alternate each drink with a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

3. Dehydration

When was the last time you had something to drink? Dehydration is one of the most common dry mouth causes. Obviously, dehydration can affect saliva production, so a dry mouth can be one of the first signs that your body needs more water. A dry mouth can be accompanied by other serious symptoms such as fever, excessive sweating and even vomiting. Therefore, make sure you’re adequately hydrated all day long. Mayo Clinic suggests that men drink around three litres of water per day while women should aim for 2.2 litres of water per day.

Although it may not seem like a big deal, chronic dry mouth can cause long-term oral damage and could even lead to sores and infection in the mouth. Don’t ignore that parched feeling in your mouth. Use water, mints and mouthwash to cope now, and then talk to your doctor about possible causes and treatment.