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Is Dry Mouth a Sign of Low Potassium & Sodium?

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
Is Dry Mouth a Sign of Low Potassium & Sodium?
Young woman drinking water Photo Credit: Alliance/iStock/Getty Images

Dry mouth, formally known as xerostomia, is a condition that occurs when you don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. You can develop dry mouth for a number of reasons. However, the condition is not a typical sign or symptom of low levels of either potassium or sodium.

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Dry Mouth Causes

Anyone can develop a dry mouth during periods of stress, nervousness or any other emotional upset, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. However, if you regularly have a dry mouth, your condition may stem from additional outside factors. Known potential causes of ongoing dry mouth include use of medications such as antidepressants or antihypertensives, tobacco use, nerve damage in your head or neck, and the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Aging can also cause dry mouth in association with other risk factors. In addition, dry mouth can be a symptom of serious health problems such as diabetes, anxiety disorders, Parkinson’s disease, depression, Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS.

Low Potassium Symptoms

You need potassium in your system to maintain normal function in certain cells, including those located in your muscles and nervous system. Low potassium, formally known as hypokalemia, occurs when your blood levels of this mineral fall below 3.5 mEq/L. If your levels fall slightly below normal, you may not experience any related symptoms. However, larger drops in your potassium levels can trigger symptoms that include fatigue, constipation, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, heart rhythm irregularities, abnormal breakdown of your muscle tissues and paralysis.

Low Sodium Symptoms

You need sodium in your system to maintain blood pressure and a normal balance of bodily fluids, as well as normal function in your nerves and muscles. Low sodium, formally known as hyponatremia, when your sodium levels drop relative to your body’s water content. In some cases, actual sodium loss accounts for this imbalance. In other cases, water levels increase relative to sodium levels. Known potential symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, fatigue, irritability, headache, appetite loss, convulsions, confusion, hallucinations, diminished consciousness and coma.

Dry Mouth Treatment

If you regularly experience dry mouth, see your doctor or dentist for a diagnosis of potential problems. If treatment is required, it will typically vary with the underlying cause of your condition. Potential options for dry mouth treatment include adjustment of medications that may be causing your symptoms, use of medications that improve your saliva output and use of artificial saliva products. You can also ease the effects of dry mouth with steps that include avoiding caffeinated drinks, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, sucking on sugarless hard candy and regularly sipping water or sugarless drinks. Consult your doctor for more information on hypokalemia and hyponatremia.

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