Tue, Dec 24, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Watching for the signs of dry mouth
口乾舌燥有異味 小心口乾症

If you often feel that your sense of taste has changed, your mouth is dry and there is a peculiar taste in your mouth, be wary about the possibility that you have dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia). Ko Hui-hsin, an attending physician in the dentistry department at National Taiwan University Hospital’s Hsinchu Branch, says that middle-aged women over the age of 50 make up the majority of people suffering from dry mouth. The main symptoms include dryness in the mouth, dry eyes, dry genitalia and aching joints. The causes of dry mouth are complex and it is best to get tested at a hospital instead of ignoring the condition, she says.

Ko says that saliva fights bacteria and helps keep the teeth and mouth clean. When salivation is reduced, however, the oral mucosa can get irritated and food builds up on the teeth, which allows bacteria to breed, and causes bad breath (halitosis), cavities, bleeding gums and periodontal disease. In more serious cases, it can cause difficulties chewing and swallowing, leading to malnutrition and affecting one’s overall health, Ko says, adding that dry mouth can also serve as a signal for latent diseases.

Dry mouth can be caused by salivary gland stones, she says, adding that when salivary stones form, the gland’s ability to secrete is impeded, which in turn causes dryness in the mouth, as well as pain and swelling under the tongue and in the cheeks. People with iron-deficiency anemia have relatively paler and shinier, smoother tongues, accompanied by symptoms such as burning, stabbing pains and dryness in the mouth, while people with pernicious anemia in its early stages experience numbness in the tongue, depapillation of the tongue and dryness in the mouth.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. impede v.

阻礙;妨礙;阻止 (zu3 ai4; fang2 ai4; zu2 zhi3)

例: Lack of investment has impeded growth in that sector of the market.

(投資不足阻礙市場該部分的成長。)

2. pernicious adj.

惡性的;致命的;有害的 (e4 xing4 de5; zhi4 ming4 de5; you3 hai4 de5)

例: Some people claim that pornography has a pernicious

effect on society.

(有些人宣稱色情媒體對社會有害。)

3. numbness n.

麻木;無感覺 (ma2 mu4; wu2 gan3 jue2)

例: The numbness in his hands caused by frostbite did not subside for several hours.

(手因凍傷而麻木的症狀,好幾個鐘頭都未緩解。)


Diabetics typically suffer from frequent urination, dry mouth and abnormal hunger. If you have a history of diabetes in your family or are overweight, it must be taken seriously, Ko says. Approximately 30 percent of seniors have various degrees of dry mouth due to a decrease in the secretion of saliva caused by atrophy in the salivary glands.

Ko says that symptoms can be improved in most cases of dry mouth by eliminating the cause, regardless of whether the condition is due to physiological disorders or systematic diseases. It is impossible to completely cure cases of dry mouth brought on by age, she says, recommending that one place more importance on keeping the mouth clean and using fluoride toothpaste. Although drinking more water can help lessen the discomfort associated with dry mouth, seniors, and people with bad livers and hearts, should be careful and avoid drinking excessive amounts of water, which can increase the burden put on internal organs.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

常覺味覺改變、口腔乾燥有異味,當心罹患口乾症。台大醫院新竹分院牙科醫師柯惠馨表示,口乾症以五十歲以上的中老年女性患者居多,主要症狀包括口乾、眼乾、生殖器官乾燥、關節部位疼痛,而口乾症的原因十分複雜,切莫輕忽,最好至醫院檢查。

柯惠馨指出,唾液有對抗細菌、清潔牙齒和口腔的作用,但當唾液減少時,口腔黏膜易受刺激,食物堆積於牙齒上,使細菌繁殖,容易形成口臭、蛀牙、牙齦出血及牙周病,嚴重會造成咀嚼、吞嚥困難,導致營養吸收不良,影響全身健康,另一方面也可能是各種潛藏疾病的表徵。

她表示,口乾症可能是唾液腺結石造成,當唾液腺發生結石時,唾液分泌會受阻礙,而造成口乾、舌下及臉頰脹痛;缺鐵性貧血之患者,舌頭顏色較蒼白、光亮和平滑,也會伴隨灼熱、刺痛和口乾等症狀,惡性貧血的患者初期也會出現舌頭麻木、舌乳頭萎縮及口乾舌燥的現象。

另外,罹患糖尿病時,患者也會有頻尿、口乾及不正常的飢餓感,家族有糖尿病史或本身過度肥胖者,不可掉以輕心;約有三成的老年人也有不同程度的口乾症,這是由於口腔腺體萎縮,唾液分泌減少所致。

柯惠馨說,無論是生理性的原因或系統性疾病的影響,大部分的口乾症,可以在原因去除後改善症狀,但因年紀老化引起的口乾症,則無法完全治療,建議要更注重口腔的清潔,使用含氟牙膏;此外,多喝水雖也可減少口乾的不適感,但老年人、腎功能及心臟功能不佳者需小心,以免喝了過量的水,增加內臟負擔。

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