Many things can cause dry eye and dry mouth to occur at the same time. This can be due to an underlying health condition or other factors, such as sleep environment, allergies, or dehydration.
Many different factors can cause either dry eyes or dry mouth by themselves. While less common, it is also possible for a person to experience both at the same time. If a person experiences dry eye and dry mouth at the same time, this may help doctors rule out other conditions and provide a diagnosis.
In this article we will explore the causes of dry eyes and dry mouth, treatments for both, and when to contact a doctor.
However, when the two conditions occur at the same time, there are fewer possible causes. Some of these may include:
Sjögren disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the glands that produce tears and saliva. It is a chronic condition that reduces the body’s ability to create moisture. Sjörgen disease can occur as a standalone condition or alongside other conditions.
Currently, there is no known cure for Sjörgen disease, but treatments exist that help a person with their symptoms, such as eye drops and mouth moisturizing sprays.
Lupus is also an autoimmune condition. Lupus can affect a person in intermittent bursts, with periods of remission in between flare-ups of symptoms. Lupus can cause inflammation anywhere in the body.
A person with lupus may experience dry eye and dry mouth, often due to secondary Sjögren disease. This term describes when symptoms of Sjögren disease coexist with another autoimmune condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is a progressive, chronic autoimmune condition, meaning symptoms worsen over time. RA causes swelling, pain, and inflammation in and around a person’s joints and other areas of their body.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can occur when the body is unable to produce or sufficiently use insulin. This is a hormone that allows glucose in the blood to enter cells, providing them with the energy to function
- kidney problems
- certain diabetes medications
Additionally, other evidence suggests that roughly half of people living with diabetes may experience dry eye. This may occur due to nerve damage that may affect the function of glands that produce tears.
Renal disease treatment
The kidneys play a crucial role in the body’s ability to regulate its fluid and electrolyte balance. Because of this, kidney problems can cause issues with the body’s hydration levels.
If a person is receiving hemodialysis to treat chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, they may experience symptoms relating to moisture production and retention. This includes both dry eye and dry mouth.
Intestinal and metabolic conditions
A number of conditions affecting the digestive system may cause a person to experience chronic diarrhea.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can both lead to chronic diarrhea. A common complication of both conditions is persistent dehydration, which may lead to dry eye and dry mouth.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that helps regulate a person’s hormone levels. When someone has a thyroid disorder, the thyroid gland does not work properly, which impedes hormone regulation.
Sometimes, instead of a medical condition, a person may experience either dry eye or dry mouth due to environmental factors or certain medications. Potential factors that may cause them to occur simultaneously can include the following.
If a person experiences dry eye and dry mouth upon waking, it may be due to environmental factors. To help prevent this, an individual can check their sleeping area for fans, drafts, dehumidifiers, and anything else in the environment that may lead to dryness during the night.
A person may also wake with a dry mouth or eyes if they sleep with their mouth or eyes open.
Sleep apnea can also be a cause of dry mouth, as people with this condition often breathe through the mouth during sleep. Some may wake up with dry eye if they have lagophthalmos. This is a condition in which a person cannot shut their eyes properly during sleep.
Allergies and medications
There are many possible causes of dry mucous membranes, such as the nose, eyes, and mouth. Both allergies and medications are likely causes of dry mucous membranes.
Medications that can dry out the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth include:
In a similar way to thyroid disorders, the hormonal changes that menopause can cause may lead to dry eye and mouth. These are common symptoms of menopause. However, they are not permanent and not everyone will experience them during menopause.
Treating dry eye and dry mouth is relatively simple when they occur as standalone conditions. The main treatments involve maintaining proper hydration and using lubricating eye drops.
If someone is experiencing dry eye and dry mouth as symptoms of another condition, such as Sjörgen disease, they will need to treat the underlying cause of these symptoms, as well as the symptoms themselves.
If symptoms of dry eye and dry mouth do not resolve with treatments, such as eye drops or adequate hydration, it is advisable for a person to contact a doctor.
A doctor can diagnose or rule out underlying health conditions that could be causing these symptoms or prescribe medications to treat symptoms if over-the-counter medications have not proven effective.
Many causes and factors can lead to a person experiencing dry eye and dry mouth at the same time. This can be due to other medical conditions or environmental factors. For some people, drinking sufficient fluids and using eye drops can help relieve these symptoms.
However, if symptoms do not resolve with at-home treatment, a person may consider contacting a doctor to check if they have signs of an underlying health condition.