If you sweat excessively during a workout, you can become dehydrated. One of the symptoms of dehydration is thick, stringy saliva, which can form a white, sticky substance around your mouth. Another cause of white around the mouth with exercise is a condition known as dry mouth.
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Dehydration and White Around Mouth
You may think that feeling thirsty is the best indicator of dehydration, but that's not necessarily the case, according to the Mayo Clinic. A better test is how often you need to urinate and the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow and you only need to go about every eight hours, it's likely you are dehydrated, even if you're not thirsty.
Other symptoms may include dry, white clumps of saliva forming on your lips, cracked or chapped lips, headaches, constipation and lightheadedness.
Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention. See a doctor immediately if you have any of these extreme symptoms — diarrhea for more than 24 hours, inability to keep fluids down, black or bloody stool or altered orientation.
It's not unusual to become mildly dehydrated during exercise because you naturally lose water through sweating, particularly if you do an intense workout or it is hot.
Dehydration during exercise causes your body temperature and heart rate to increase as blood thickens, according the Heart Foundation. Apart from feeling thirsty, a dry mouth is one of the first signs of dehydration during a workout.
Treat Dehydration During Exercise
You should replace fluids at regular intervals throughout an exercise session and ensure your system is hydrated before you start. Water is highly effective at replacing fluid lost through perspiration.
However, water doesn't contain vital nutrients, such as potassium, calcium and sodium, that can become depleted with very strenuous exercise or prolonged workouts. A sports drink with electrolytes might be appropriate under these conditions.
Another way you can prevent dehydration and the associated sticky saliva when you exercise is avoiding caffeine and alcohol, both of which increase your need to urinate, meaning you lose more body fluid.
Read more: How Can I Tell When My Body Is Hydrated?
White Around Lips: Dry Mouth
One of the most common symptoms of dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is sticky saliva, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don't produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist and protect it from bacteria.
It is usually caused by a reaction to certain medications, such as those used for depression and high blood pressure, health conditions including diabetes and HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy and nerve damage in your head or neck.
Breathing through your mouth can also exacerbate the problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. As this is something you tend to do when exercising, you may find that if you have dry mouth, your symptoms are worse during a workout. This includes the dry, thick saliva that can form in the corners of your mouth.
To help prevent dry mouth during exercise, sip water frequently or suck on sugar-free candy to increase saliva production, as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.