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Could fumes cause throat problems?

A reader wonders if neighbourhood gas emissions could be behind persistent mouth and throat issues.

QUESTION:

I regularly suffer from dry mouth and sometimes also a croaky voice, like the person who wrote the letter on this topic published earlier this year (The Advertiser, 1/3/14).

I wonder if the cause could be environmental, due to the ever-increasing use of chemicals and other contaminants polluting our air space. What does the panel think?

In my case, I suspect the cause may be fumes of some kind, emitted by a close neighbour. The product being released is almost odourless and the air temperature rises between 1C and 5C.

It seems the fumes make my mouth go unnaturally bone dry. There is not a drop of saliva. The tongue goes white. There may be mild stinging of skin or eyes, the latter being easily mistaken for eye fatigue.

The saliva returns when the air clears again.

If no cause can be found by the above letter writer, then it’s probably something in his environment. How well does he know his neighbours?

There appears to be a lot of mysterious release of gases in many suburban areas. If the letter writer also has other symptoms such as a dry or irritated throat, stinging skin and eyes, if there appear to be chemicals or other contaminants in the air, if the air temperature rises for no apparent reason, then this may be the cause of the dry mouth.

ANSWER:

There are multiple causes of a dry mouth and a croaky voice. Many of the causes are of a medical nature. These can include diabetes, connective tissue and arthritic disorders, salivary disorders, anxiety and depression, mouth breathing, reflux oesophagitis and diseases of the larynx.

Some medications may also contribute to a dry mouth.

It would be wise to see your local doctor to have a check up and to determine if your condition needs to be investigated for a medical cause. This could also involve referral to a specialist.

If no medical reason is found, then it would be worth investigating your environment.

If you feel your environment is to blame then contact the Environment Protection Authority (www.epa.sa.gov.au). Phone 8204 2004 during office hours. They may deal with this themselves or pass it on to your local council.

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Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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