Four Causes of a Dry Mouth and Nose

Are your mouth and nasal passages always dry? Find out what causes a dry mouth and nose – and when you should see a doctor for this problem.

Do you suffer from a constant dry mouth and nose? This is common complaint, particularly during the winter months when the air is dry, but it can also be a sign of a more serious condition – like an autoimmune disease. Find out what causes a dry mouth and nose.

Most Common Causes of Dry Mouth and Nose: Is It the Humidity?

If you have a dry mouth and nose, low humidity in the air could be the problem. If you live in a dry environment, the lack of humidity can dry out your mucous membranes and cause a dry mouth and nose. This is not only uncomfortable, but it increases the chances of catching cold or flu virus. Most experts recommend an indoor humidity of between 35% and 45%. If have a constant dry nose and mouth, invest in a humidifier to keep your mucous membranes moist.


Medications are a common cause of dry mouth and nose and a wide variety of medications can cause this symptom from antihistamines to anti-depressants. The drugs that cause this symptom are too numerous to list, so if you have a dry nose and mouth talk to your doctor. In some cases, another medication can be substituted for one that’s causing dryness. Don’t forget that the nicotine in cigarettes can also cause mouth dryness.


Not drinking enough fluid can dry out your mouth and mucous membranes. Try increasing your fluid intake if you have a dry mouth and nose. A more serious cause of a dry nose and mouth is poorly controlled diabetes. High blood sugar levels and ketones cause loss of fluid, which can lead to severe dehydration. This initially manifests as a dry mouth.

More Serious Causes of Dry Mouth and Nose

A dry mouth and nose may be the first sign of an autoimmune disease, most commonly Sjogren’s syndrome. This disease attacks glands that secrete mucous – leading to severe mouth and nose dryness as well as dry eyes. Another autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis can also cause a chronic dry mouth. People who have the HIV virus also commonly complain of mouth dryness. There are blood tests that can help with the diagnosis of these conditions.

The Bottom Line?

Dry mouth and nose are common problems, and they may be due to dehydration or living in a low humidity environment. On the other hand, they can also be a sign of a more serious problem such as an autoimmune disease. If you have this symptom and it doesn’t improve by increasing the humidity of your home and drinking more water, see your doctor.

References: “Managing the Patient Presenting with Xerostomia”

Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.

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  1. These simple health alerts could be life saving because people generally do not promptly respond to their body’s needs Thanks for sharing .

  2. I can really appreciate your topic on this. My daughter-in-law was recently diagnosed with Sjogren’s. One of her complaints was certainly dry mouth, as well as MANY other complaints. She had gone to numerous doctors for years and was never tested for Sjogren’s, or any other autoimmune disease. The medication she takes for Sjogren’s is very harsh, but at least she finally knows why she has felt so poorly, and now has more good days than bad days. I hope your article helps someone who had never heard of such a condition. I know I hadn’t. Also, I might add that I couldn’t believe how many conditions are autoimmune! I wish more doctors would consider autoimmune as a possibile problem, and then test for it. Thanks, great article!

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