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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 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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