Drooling in Angelman Syndrome

Brian Murphy, Ph.D. avatar

by Brian Murphy, Ph.D. |

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Angelman syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that leads to physical and mental impairment. Drooling is a common symptom of Angelman syndrome that may be difficult to deal with, especially in social settings. It can also lead to skin irritation and aspiration where patients accidentally breathe in fluids or food.

Here is some more information about what might cause drooling in Angelman syndrome and how doctors may treat it.

How might Angelman syndrome cause drooling?

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of drooling in Angelman syndrome but think that it is related to the improper control of saliva rather than the production of too much saliva. Many patients have features of the mouth, such as tongue thrusting and protrusion of the lower jaw, that could make it harder to close. This could also contribute to drooling.

Angelman syndrome patients may also have missing or impaired sensation in the back of the mouth and throat that tells them to swallow. They may also not notice when saliva is escaping from their mouth. Poor posture, frequent mouthing of objects, and some medications could also lead to problems with saliva management.

What are the treatment options?

Different treatment options can help patients with excessive drooling, such as medications that help reduce the production of saliva. These include benztropine, glycopyrrolate, benzhexol hydrochloride, atropine drops under the tongue, or scopolamine patches which are usually used for motion sickness.

Occupational therapy may also help patients with swallowing problems and help them learn how to better control their tongue and mouth.

If the drooling is severe and not improved with medications or therapy, surgery may be an option. Surgery is not recommended for children younger than six, however, as they are still developing control of their mouth, and the drooling may improve as they get older. Surgical options available are sealing and relocating the salivary ducts, destroying the nerves that lead to the salivary glands (denervation), or removal of the salivary glands.

Treatment to reduce saliva production may cause dental issues since saliva helps protect the teeth from decay and gum inflammation (gingivitis). Proper dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing, is important to reduce this risk.

 

Last updated: Nov. 30, 2020

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Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.