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Foaming at the mouth can be an alarming sign of a severe problem and requires immediate medical attention. Here are some fast facts you should know about this condition and what you should do if you notice these signs in a friend or loved one.

Foaming At The Mouth: A Critical Sign

It is never a benign sign if you see someone foaming at the mouth. Generally, it is a sign of central nervous system function loss. Any amount of saliva that spills out of the mouth without the person intending to do so can have several critical causes: the foaming or frothy saliva results from it mixing with the air. As a result, you may notice a bubbly, foamy, or frothy appearance.

Causes of Foaming At The Mouth

Here are some of the most common causes behind foamy saliva:

Drug Overdose
Individuals who use certain recreational drugs are susceptible to suffering an accidental overdose. An overdose happens when the body can not eliminate the drug fast enough as its concentration builds inside the blood. It begins to affect the organs, such as the heart, lungs, and brain. Opioid drugs, such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, can kill by restricting breathing, slowing down the rate at which it happens, and making the user take shallower breaths.

Finding frothy saliva around a person’s mouth and nose indicates pulmonary edema, indicating a fluid buildup in the lungs. This is a life-threatening emergency, and you should call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. A life-saving drug called naloxone, also known as Narcan, begins working in minutes to reverse an overdose. It is available in stores as a spray and can also be administered by first responders.

Seizures are episodes of excessive, abnormal activity within the brain. They can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they have epilepsy. Seizures can interfere with the swallowing reflex, preventing excess saliva from building up in the mouth. Combined with other factors, saliva builds up in the mouth and can aerate, resulting in frothing or foaming.

Seizures lasting more than a few minutes are a medical emergency, and you should call 911 immediately for medical assistance.

Heart Conditions
Conditions such as pulmonary edema can result from heart failure. When the lower chambers of the heart experience failure (ventricular failure), the upper chambers can receive a significant increase in pressure and push fluid into the lungs as a result. Severe pulmonary edema can cause liquid to come out of the nose and mouth. This is an emergency medical situation, and you must call 911 immediately.


While other conditions can cause foamy saliva, such as rabies, it is uncommon to be harmless. Visiting the ER is the best way to receive quick treatment for what may be a life-threatening physical symptom.

At Family Diagnostic Clinic, we deliver compassionate, individual care to each patient. If you have any questions about your health, please call us at (281) 351-6800, and we’ll be happy to see you.

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