Dear Dr. Donohue I am competent, have a good memory and am active physically and mentally. I am 87 years old. My problem is drooling. It’s embarrassing to the point that I won’t eat out with others. I take no medicines, and I have no serious medical problems. Is there a way to stop this? ” R.K.
Answer Drooling happens when the mouth fills with too much saliva, when swallowing is impaired and when some illnesses promote it. Parkinson’s disease is such an illness. When drooling results from an illness, then attention is directed to correcting that illness.
Partly to blame for drooling is aging, when the tissues around the lips and mouth lose their strength and firmness. You can address this by consciously reminding yourself to keep swallowing.
A couple of medicines help control the loss of saliva from the corners of the mouth. One is scopolamine patches (Transderm-Scop), which halt saliva production for a limited time period. Limit patch use to the times when you’re invited to eat out. Glycopyrrolate (Robinul) is fairly effective in reducing drooling. Both medicines, Transderm-Scop and Robinul, might bring on side effects that are unacceptable.
Botox injections, a treatment that is used for so many different conditions, also is used to stop drooling.
Surgical procedures are saved for the worst cases, the ones that don’t respond to other treatments. One procedure involves removal of the minor salivary glands and the tying off of the duct from the main salivary gland. The salivary ducts can be repositioned so that they empty saliva farther back in the mouth.
Have a frank discussion with an ear, nose and throat doctor, who can direct you to the treatment best suited to your particular problem.
Dear Dr. Donohue What kind of diet is best for avoiding colon cancer? My family’s history is filled with colon cancer deaths at an early age. I want to do all I can to cancel whatever genes I have inherited for this cancer. ” D.M.
Answer The best diet for reducing the risk of colon cancer is one that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and grains. You need to reduce the consumption of red meat. You don’t have to banish it from your diet, but you ought to practice moderation. You also should greatly limit processed meats. Processed meats are things like hot dogs, sausage and luncheon meats.
Stay physically active. Get the recommended amount of vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include dairy products fortified with it, fortified vitamin D orange juice and fish like salmon, trout, halibut and tuna.
Have you been checked for the genetic causes of this cancer?
Write Dr. Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, Fla. 32853-6475.