Embarrassing Questions: “I Drool All Over My Pillow At Night…”

Story by mybestyou
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Last Updated:Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“I drool all over my pillow at night. Is this normal and what can I do to stop it?”

Most of us do a little nighttime drooling now and then, but regular pillow soaks aren’t normal, says our friend Whit Mims, MD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. If your drooling comes with snoring and daytime fatigue, you may have sleep apnea, which requires treatment because it raises the risk of heart disease, among other awful things. What’s more likely, though, is that you’re mouth breathing. The reason may be allergies, nasal polyps, chronically inflamed nasal passages, or a deviated septum. Your doctor might give you an anti-inflammatory steroidal nasal spray or decongestants, or talk about irrigation with a saline solution or other treatment. You should also ‘fess up to any sedatives you take and your drinking habits, since these also can start the waterworks. While you’re figuring all this out, Mims suggests an easy way to keep your pillow dry: Sleep on your back. That way, even if you are an extra-good producer of saliva, you won’t make enough spit for it to spill out of your mouth.

—Whit Mims, MD, is an ear, nose, and throat doctor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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