Xerostomia (dry mouth) is a common condition with many possible causes, including regular consumption of caffeinated beverages (such as coffee and tea) and/ or alcohol-all of which can have a dehydrating effect. Dry mouth also can be a side effect of over-the-counter pain/sleep medications (such as Tylenol PM and Advil PM) and antihistamines as well as certain prescription diuretics, antidepressants and medications for overactive bladder and Parkinson's disease. In addition, medical conditions such as diabetes and the autoimmune disorder Sjogrens syndrome can be to blame.

To alleviate dry mouth, drink more water (aim for at least 32 ounces daily) and limit or avoid alcohol, caffeinated soda, coffee and tea, salt and salty foods. During the winter, set your thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature and use a humidifier. If you suspect that medication may be causing your dry mouth, ask your doctor if there are alternatives that you could take. Products such as Biotene mouthwash and toothpaste for dry mouth also can provide relief. If your dry mouth persists or worsens despite taking these steps, see your physician. If left untreated, dry mouth can reduce your sense of taste and raise your risk for gum disease, heartburn and other problems.

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