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Journey into the world of hyperemesis gravidarum...
25Feb 14

Excessive Saliva... Gross!

You all know me well enough by now to know I don't beat about the bush on subjects which are, quite frankly, plain gross. And excessive saliva experienced during hyperemesis is no exception.

It is a little discussed problem and one which many women don't realise is actually common. Suffering in silence thinking they are some sort of salivating freak of pregnancy it serves only to add to the misery. But it is very common for women with hyperemesis and also very distressing. It's so common and “real” that it actually has a name... Ptyalism.

The distress from this symptom is kind of complex. On the one hand the psychological impact of knowing you are already very dehydrated and yet loosing even more precious fluid through excessive saliva production is frustrating and confusing. Then there is the embarrassment caused by the bizarre condition and resulting dribble (a drool soaked pillow on waking from a nap can be embarrassing even when you are all on your own – why is that?). Or the sometimes necessary “spit cup” to be carted around with you to the doctors surgery, by your hospital bed, to the sofa on the rare occasion a friend visits (putting them off returning any time soon).

But what if you don't spit it out... ergh, swallowing it is even harder when you have hyperemesis! If sips of water are coming straight back out then it's likely sips of your own saliva will too.

What can you do about ptyalism? Well sadly there is no actual cure or remedy (although no doubt you could pay someone lots of money who claims to fix it with some sort of mumbo jumbo). So, like most symptoms of hyperemesis, it's a matter of management.

First of all just knowing you are not alone with this symptom will, hopefully, help with the psychological aspect. As I type there are literally thousands of pregnant women in the UK and indeed the world spitting into cups or towels or futilely perusing the cycle of swallow and spew. Perhaps try connecting with a few of them on forums such as Pregnancy Sickness Support's UK forum or the HER Foundation forum in USA. If there isn't already a thread for excessive salivation then start one and share horror stories and coping tips. Honestly, it helps to know you are not alone.

I know a lot of women use opaque cups with lids on to spit into and find that effective. Others use a towel and switch it when soaked. Personally I couldn't cope with a cup full of saliva, the thought of it is making me queasy now and I am a long way from pregnant. I used tissues and put them in a cup... not very different really but worked for me and prevented the imagery that I found so offensive. When you can eat then dry foods might help dry your mouth temporarily and bring some respite. Rinsing your mouth regularly might help and will at least alter the taste. I couldn't cope with full blown mouthwash but used to dilute a little Listerine with water and found it palatable and helpful. Different flavours will work for different people but thinks like lemon water or soda water may be worth a try too. Unfortunately, like most aspects of HG you'll likely find what helps you personally through trial and error.

Whatever you do... Don't avoid fluids in the hope of reducing the saliva... it's a sure fired way to end up on a drip or worse and it won't work anyway.

Sorry I don't have an actual solution for you. If you have any better tips for other readers then please do comment...

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Just wanted to say that there is some anacdotal evidence omeprazol diminishes the flow of saliva. Perhaps worth a try if you are suffering from this.
Rosa Overbosch, 25th February 2014

I can't spit! I try, I just can't. Hubby has tried to teach me but I can't get the hang of it. I can ONLY dribble and I think lying on my dribble soaked pillow has given me an ear infection :/
Jade Vernon, 25th February 2014

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About Me

I am mother of three beautiful children and wife to a fantastic and supportive husband. I am a nurse, a farmer and a trustee for Pregnancy Sickness Support. I love working hard and spending time with my kids.

About this blog

Information and support for pregnancy sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum. Views are my own and do not represent those of any other organisation. Information provided here should not be a substitute for medical advice. My aim is to raise awareness and encourage sufferers to know they are not alone.

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