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Frothing or Foaming Saliva

The man is frothing at the mouth. Help!

Most people, are more alarmed about frothing or foaming saliva at the mouth and it stops them from providing quick and timely help.

Frothing or foaming at the mouth is a physical symptom. The foam is actually saliva that has pooled in the mouth and throat because the person has lost the ability to swallow. As the patient breathes, the saliva mixes with the air and becomes foamy.

Frothy saliva is a rare symptom; when you see it, you should be concerned and immediately send for medical assistance.

Some of the most common causes of foaming at the mouth include:

1. Drug overdose

Overdose causes foaming at the mouth because organs like the heart and lungs can’t function properly. Slowed heart or lung movements causes fluids to gather in the lungs, which can mix with carbon dioxide and come out of the mouth like a foam. Drug overdoses can be fatal.

2. Seizure

There are a variety of causes of seizures. Foamy saliva can occur during a seizure because the mouth is forced closed, which stimulates the salivary glands and makes one produce extra spit. When the mouth opens again, drool or frothy saliva can come out.

3. Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. The rabies virus is present in the saliva and if an affected animal bites you or licks an open wound or scratch you have, you may get it.

Foaming at the mouth is the most characteristic symptom of rabies. This happens because the virus affects the nervous system and the animal or person can’t swallow their saliva.

4. Heart conditions

Congestive Heart Failure is when the heart can’t pump efficiently so fluid leaks from veins and builds up in tissues, causing swelling in the lower limbs especially. It can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema. In severe cases, a patient’s lungs get so full of fluid, that the person foams when breathing. A heart attack leading to a massive left side heart failure can be a cause. The foam/froth might have a pink tinge to it.

Treatment for frothing at the mouth are specific to the cause. They need urgent medical attention to stay alive.

First aid you should perform is to roll them on their side (recovery position), make sure their airways are clear, and call emergency services or take them to the nearest hospital.

The foam is not poisonous to you but please where gloves or protect yourself from bodily fluids. They need help ASAP.

Learning CPR & First Aid will give you the confidence to act quickly to help someone in a medical emergency. Book a course today.

First Aid by Levande is a service offered by Levande Healthcare Ltd. Contact us to get first aid trainings of first aid kits and boxes.


About the author 

Dr Tosin Osikoya

Committed to saving lives. One person at a time.

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  1. I know I'm going to regret this but I found my husband on the 18 of August he had foam coming out of his nose and they said he was dead but I still wonder how can it be coming out his nose with no air

    1. Hello Samantha,

      We are truly sorry for your loss.

      You said you found your husband and they said he was dead already. The only way air can come out is if he was alive, it won’t when a victim is dead.

      There is proof that there was air due to the foam. When air mixes with saliva it froths, hence the foam you see.

      This is the answer we can give based on our understanding of your question.

      Best wishes.

  2. Okey my husband holds alot of saliva when sleeping to an extent that it chocs him and cough badly that he can't breathe…

    1. Dear Jackline,

      We are sorry that you are worried about your husband’s condition.

      Our advise is that you seek medical care as soon as possible, an inability to breathe is a major cause for concern.

      Best wishes to you both.

    1. Dear Rachel,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      Spit being foamy and white is not an issue by itself. Are there other associated symptoms or signs causing you distress?

      Also, please don’t spit on the ground, it’s better to do so into a sink that can be washed away or into a tissue that can be thrown away.

      Take care!

    1. Hello Linda,

      Thank you for your question.

      Visible blood is not a good sign, no matter where it comes out from. Be it the mouth, nose, rectum etc.; it needs to be assessed by a healthcare professional.

      For your specific question, froth is foamy saliva and the blood is mixed with it; still not a good sign. There could be any number of causes and the best bet is to go to a hospital and seek answers and possibly treatment.

      Best of luck.

    1. Hello Dedric,

      Not sure I understand your statement.

      If you need medical care, seek it as soon as possible. A blog is not the best place as you cannot be physically examined nor can a full history be taken.

      Best wishes

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  4. Thanks for bringing a possible understandable meaning to why he was forming at the mouth.

    My Brother Was not rendered immediate aid due to froming at the mouth and calling 911. Time 7pluse minutes had lapped. He died in the hospital once all assisted aid was unplugged. They watched him die.

    Sad, sad, sad yet understandable due to shock, sacredness and the inability to communicate. What's even worse is the lack of learning what to do when it happens again to another
    family member.

    1. So so sorry about your brother. Our hearts go out to you and your family.
      Hopefully, we have been able to explain in our blog posts what to do if someone collapses, whether or not they foam in the mouth:

      1. Send/call for help e.g. a colleague, a neighbor, emergency number for your area, private ambulance etc
      2. Start chest compressions!


  5. Thank you very much for the details and useful information but is there a way to better the person’s condition immediately even if it’s just for a bit like drinking water, increasing the oxygen, or raising there upper or lower body for blood flow etc… if not than it’s just best to call for medical assistance right?

    1. Hello Kaisen,

      Thank you for your comment and question.

      The first thing to do is call for medical assistance.

      The next thing one can do is place the victim in the recovery position, which is putting the person on the side and allowing the frothy saliva to spill out. One should also tilt the head back to open the airway.

      If the victim stops breathing, you can commence Hands-Only CPR because of all that fluid around the mouth and also because in this era of COVID, it is not recommended to breathe for a victim.

      The common reasons for this type of saliva shows you it is serious and so act promptly.

      First Aid by Levande

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