The Symptoms of Salivation

Abnormal production of saliva; indigestion; emaciation.

This morbid condition is rather a symptom of disease than itself a disease. The amount of saliva daily produced in health is ten to twelve ounces. When the amount becomes so great as to be troublesome, escaping from the mouth, or requiring a person to spit or swallow to get rid of it, it may be said to be abnormal. Sometimes two to five quarts are produced in cases of disease.

The Causes of Salivation

The causes of salivation are numerous. Anything which causes irritation of the mouth or mucous membrane of the stomach will produce it. It frequently occurs in fevers, and is produced by the cutting of the milk teeth, by decayed teeth, and especially by certain drugs, among which are all the preparations of gold, iodine, copper, lead, and particularly mercury, together with jalap, digitalis, and balsam of copaiba. Certain vegetable foods also, particularly tomatoes, sometimes occasion a slight irritation of the mucous membrane of the mouth which produces a profuse flow of saliva, and which has by some been erroneously taken as an evidence that tomatoes contain calomel, and hence should not be eaten as food. The worst form of salivation is that produced by the use of mercury. In some persons a very small quantity of this metallic poison will produce salivation; in others, a larger quantity is required. Mercury is always found in the saliva in cases of mercurial salivation, and its presence may be detected a long time after the drug has been administered. We have met persons who asserted that they had had recurrences of mercurial salivation at intervals for years after having had a "mercurial course." The eminent Dr. Wright, who devoted much time to the study of this subject, found that saliva containing mercury is inert, being so poisoned by the drug that its power to change starch into sugar is lost. This corresponds with the effect of mercury upon the bile, to which we have elsewhere called attention, and accounts for the indigestion and emaciation of patients salivated by mercury.