High blood pressure (HBP) is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition. It is more commonly known as hypertension, and it increases the force blood exercises on your blood vessels. If left untreated, hypertension can contribute to a variety of health problems, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
One of the lesser-known symptoms of high blood pressure is dry mouth and other dental issues such as gingivitis or bad breath. This may be because of an underlying issue with the nervous system or due to dehydration caused by increased urination associated with high BP levels.
It is important to note that there is still research to be done in this area; however, some people have reported experiencing dry mouth related to their HBP. In general, if you are managing your blood pressure levels through diet and lifestyle changes or medication appropriately but still experience symptoms such as dry mouth which could indicate other underlying issues, it may be worth consulting with a doctor for further advice.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is an elevation of the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as it is pumped around the body. This force, known as ‘pressure’, is a necessary part of life and enables the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to various parts and organs throughout the body.
When blood pressure rises above normal levels for an extended period of time, it can cause serious health problems. High blood pressure can damage vital organs such as the kidneys, heart and brain, increase the risk for stroke and heart attack, and can even be lethal. Weakened or narrowed arteries resulting from high blood pressure are less able to supply oxygen-rich blood to these organs which can eventually damage them.
There are two main types of high blood pressure:
- Primary (essential) hypertension which has no diagnosable cause;
- Secondary hypertension which is typically due to another underlying medical condition such as kidney disease or diabetes.
High blood pressure can also indicate an unhealthy lifestyle such as eating too much salt or not enough fruits and vegetables or exercising regularly. Control of high blood pressure usually requires a combination treatment including lifestyle modifications (such as reducing salt intake or increasing physical activity) combined with one or more medicines prescribed by your doctor.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition in which the saliva glands do not produce enough saliva. This can be caused by several factors including medication side effects, underlying medical conditions and lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking alcohol.
When saliva production is reduced, the mouth can become very dry and uncomfortable. This also increases the risk of dental cavities and infections.
High blood pressure is one of the conditions that can cause insufficient saliva production leading to dry mouth. When hypertension is left untreated, it can cause constriction or narrowing of blood vessels which restricts circulation to major organs like the salivary glands. This hinders secretion of saliva thus leaving your mouth feeling parched all day long. Other symptoms associated with dry mouth may include:
- Burning sensation on the tongue or lips
- Bad breath
- Altered sense of taste
- Frequent thirst
To avoid any complications from arising from this condition it’s important to consult a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms associated with high blood pressure or dry that does not go away for a few days.
Possible Causes of Dry Mouth
Having dry mouth can be an irritating condition and it can lead to other issues, like difficulty speaking or swallowing. Although there can be many underlying causes for dry mouth, one of the more common causes is high blood pressure. Let’s take a closer look at this possible cause and what other underlying causes might be contributing to the dry mouth:
Medications are a common cause of dry mouth. Any medicines that have a drying effect can reduce the flow of saliva and cause dry mouth.
Some medications related to the treatment of high blood pressure can lead to dry mouth. This includes diuretics, which help to reduce the amount of fluid in the body and beta blockers, which are used to relax blood vessels and slow down your heartbeat. Other medications prescribed for high blood pressure such as calcium-channel blockers (diltiazem, amlodipine), Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (losartan, telmisartan) and ACE Inhibitors (lisinopril, enalapril) can also be responsible for dry mouth.
Aside from those associated with high blood pressure, drugs that contain antihistamines or decongestants may also decrease saliva production. Antihistamines and decongestants are often found in cold or allergy medicines and diet pills. Dry mouth may also be a side effect of antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, muscle relaxants, sedatives, narcotic painkillers and drugs used in chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
Dehydration is a common cause of dry mouth, which can be due to not drinking enough water or other fluids throughout the day. Dehydration commonly occurs when exercising and sweating heavily, after which it may be necessary to drink more fluids than usual. Other factors that can lead to dehydration include spending time in a hot environment, spending a long period without food or water and drinking alcohol or caffeine.
Symptoms of dehydration include having a dry mouth or feeling thirsty, as well as dark colored urine. Additionally, you may experience headache, fatigue or dizziness. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day will help alleviate these symptoms and prevent dehydration from occurring in the first place.
Stress is a common cause of dry mouth. This occurs when the balancing system in a person’s body is disrupted, and the autonomic nervous system triggers salivary glands to produce less saliva. Stress can be physical or psychological and can be caused by thoughts, emotions, or environmental factors. It may also cause mouth breathing, which can contribute to dry mouth for a prolonged period of time.
Other physical causes of stress such as
- extensive medical illnesses,
- certain medications,
- and physical trauma
can also increase the chance of experiencing dry mouth symptoms due to the effect it has on saliva production and flow.
Additionally, dehydration caused by
- insufficient fluid consumption
- or excessive sweating
may lead to concentrated saliva with increased salt levels which may contribute to overall dryness in the mouth.
Hormonal changes can cause dry mouth, especially in women. This is due to the fact that hormones play an important role in maintaining the balance of fluids in the body. Women often experience fluctuations in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause, which can lead to dry mouth symptoms. Additionally, taking certain types of birth control pills or anti-depressant medications can contribute to hormonal changes that result in dry mouth.
If you suspect your hormones may be the cause of your dry mouth, consult with your doctor about possible treatments or lifestyle modifications that could reduce these symptoms.
How High Blood Pressure Can Cause Dry Mouth
High blood pressure (HBP) is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because there are usually no symptoms until a person has a heart attack or stroke. It can be caused by elevated levels of stress, high salt intake or other lifestyle factors. There are many medicines used for treating HBP, but one of its side effects can include dry mouth.
Dry mouth is caused by lack of saliva which could be due to dehydrated cysts in the salivary glands that makes saliva production difficult. It can also result from increased clotting as well as thickened and clogged saliva ducts due to HBP that can block the flow of saliva. This leads to fewer nerve cells that stimulate salivation and cause decreased moisture in the mouth which increases the risk of bad breath and increases discomfort while eating due to lack of lubrication.
Some other symptoms attributable to HBP include:
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Shoulder pain
If you have any unusual symptoms associated with high blood pressure it’s important to seek medical attention so your doctor can make sure everything is ok with your health before any more possible complications arise.
Tips to Manage Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, medically referred to as xerostomia, can be a result of high blood pressure and the side effects of medications. Dry mouth can be uncomfortable, but with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage the symptoms of dry mouth.
Here are some tips on how to manage dry mouth caused by high blood pressure:
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated by regularly drinking water is one of the most important ways to manage dry mouth. Keeping a water bottle on hand throughout the day can help you to stay hydrated and reduce dry mouth symptoms.
Incorporating other drinks such as diluted juices and flavored waters can also help replenish electrolytes while offering some flavor variation. Whenever possible, avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol that may make dehydration worse. Additionally, limit sugary drinks which may further decrease saliva production.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can help manage the symptoms of dry mouth. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and soda should be avoided, as they can further dry out your mouth. Similarly, alcohol will reduce the production of saliva, leaving your mouth feeling even more parched.
It is important to keep in mind that the amount of caffeine or alcohol available in a particular drink may vary depending on the brand or how it is prepared. For instance, some caffeinated sodas contain much higher amounts than others. When possible, opt for decaffeinated drinks and varieties of low-alcohol beer and wine.
If dry mouth persists despite avoiding caffeine and alcohol, it could suggest a more serious condition such as diabetes or dehydration due to inadequate fluid intake. It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience frequent dehydration or an ongoing sensation of dryness which does not get better with lifestyle modifications or over-the-counter remedies like sugarless candy and gum.
Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate the production of saliva, making it an easy and effective remedy for dry mouth. There are also sugar-free mints that can help keep your breath fresh while helping you produce more saliva.
If chewing gum or mints is not enough to sweeten your breath, try brushing your teeth or using a mouth rinse. Not only will this help to improve your breath, it may also help to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, which could further contribute to dryness.
Additionally, sipping on water throughout the day can also help ease dryness in the mouth by increasing saliva production and moisturizing oral tissues.
Avoiding smoking is an important step for anyone experiencing the symptoms of dry mouth but even more so for those that have high blood pressure, as the smoke from cigarettes will reduce saliva production and cause your mouth to become exceptionally dry. Moreover, high levels of nitric oxide in smoke reduce the efficiency of oxygen absorption and therefore make it harder to keep up energy levels. This lack of energy coupled with a dry mouth makes it difficult to engage in activities and leads to feelings of fatigue.
Quitting smoking or reducing the amount can help by increasing oxygen absorption and reducing dryness levels, therefore improving overall energy levels.
It is important to note that dry mouth is not a symptom of high blood pressure but can be caused by many of the treatments for high blood pressure such as diuretics and beta blockers. High blood pressure itself does not directly lead to dry mouth but it can be triggered by psychological or dietary factors associated with the condition.
Regardless of the cause, it is important to get diagnosed and treated for high blood pressure in order to prevent the onset of serious health complications. Dry mouth can be managed by making lifestyle changes such as:
- Drinking more water
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- Using sugarless gum or candy
- Using a humidifier in your home if needed
- Seeking medical advice if your symptoms worsen