Managing drooling when you have Parkinson's

Many people with Parkinson’s develop problems controlling their saliva. This can lead to drooling or dribbling (sialorrhea). Here, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist Caroline Bartliff, shares her tips to help you manage this symptom.

Adjust your posture

Drooling can be linked to posture. If you’re resting, make sure your head is upright and facing forward, rather than slightly more forward or to the side. You can support your head with cushions if that helps.   

Practise lip seal exercises

This can be useful to help keep your lips together. For example, when you’re leaning forward cooking, typing on a computer or eating a meal. 

You can test how strong your lip seal is by pressing your cheeks, one at a time, whilst holding your lips closed. A good lip strength means you don't release the air through your lips as you press.

Doing these exercises twice a day in front of a mirror, as you brush your teeth, for example, can help to improve your lip seal strength:

  • A big grinning smile.
  • Pushing your lips forward for a puckering kiss.
  • Holding your lips tightly together whilst blowing air into your cheeks.
Use swallow prompts

Apps, such Swallow Prompt, can really help. When you’re awake, you typically swallow every 1-2 minutes. Swallow Prompt can help you retrain yourself to swallow more frequently by sending you reminders for when you need to swallow. 

Chew gum

Chewing gum, pastilles or sweets tells your brain that you have something in your mouth and helps you swallow more often. It also reduces the build-up of saliva in your mouth. 

Consider medical treatments

There are treatments that can help. These include medication, Botox injections, drops, or a spray that can dry your mouth. Talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse about what might work best for you.