Does Diabetes Cause Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth can be a symptom of a diabetic emergency. When diabetics experience dry mouth along with confusion, delirium, odd smells in their urine, skin that doesn’t spring back when it is pinched, along with blood sugar levels over 350 mg/dl (18 mmol/L), the problem may be ketoacidosis.

diabeticSometimes the first time this potentially deadly condition first occurs after a type 2 diabetic is given a prescription for the blood sugar-lowering drug metformin. Diabetics who test their own blood sugars and who keep Ketostix on hand for urine testing will always know when dry mouth is one of many symptoms of ketoacidosis. But what about dry mouth when blood sugar levels are normal?

Dry mouth can be caused by the same condition that causes numbness, tingling, and burning in the feet and hands. This condition can cause the passage of food through the digestive fact to slow to a crawl, and change the ability of the heart to beat slower or faster during conditions of stress. Dry mouth can be a symptom of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy results from the death of nerves. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels, not high enough to cause a diabetic crisis, slowly force nerves to convert glucose sugar into fructose sugar and store it. The accumulated fructose interferes with the nerve’s ability to change the charge on its surface, so it stops receiving and transmitting nerve impulses. Eventually the absence of activity across the nerve causes it to die.

The symptoms of dry mouth result from the destruction of the nerves that activate the salivary glands. The glands themselves are intact, but they do not get the stimulation they need to keep the moist. So what can diabetics do to prevent dry mouth. Here are three important steps:

    1. The single most important thing any type 1 or type 2 diabetic can do to prevent nerve damage is to keep blood sugars at normal levels. This means controlling blood sugar levels after each meal, not just getting them down to normal for a short time every morning. Controlling blood sugar levels is only possible after testing blood sugar levels, and dry mouth is usually a symptom that a more rigorous testing program-3 or 4 times a day instead of once-is called for.
    2. Relatively high doses of R-lipoic acid help regenerate nerve tissue. If you take R-lipoic acid, however, you also need its cofactors, the B vitamins biotin and niacin, as well as L-carnitine.
      Alpha-lipoic acid will not, as some commentators say, damage nerve tissue, but only about 45 per cent of the lipoic acid in alpha-lipoic acid is in the R- form.


  1. Don’t overdose vitamin C. Up to 500 mg of vitamin C a day is a useful antioxidant, but much more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day can cause reactions that actually damage the nerves and dry out the mouth.

As nerves slowly regenerate, it’s help to follow the recommendations for dry mouth of any other cause. And for the causes of dry mouth at night, consider sleep apnea.