Give dry mouth the boot

Dry mouth is a side effect from some chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Though, the good news is you don’t have to suffer with this uncomfortable condition.

Dry mouth is known as xerostomia, and although it is common, it is frequently overlooked. Because there is very limited statistical data about xerostomia, prevalence estimates can range between about 1% and 64 % of the population. 

There are many possible causes of dry mouth, which include a range of medical conditions, medications, dehydration and smoking. In fact, it was reported that there are over 

400 over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications that can contribute to dry mouth, or make it worse. These include antihistamines (allergy or asthma), antihypertensive medications, decongestants, pain medications, diuretics, muscle relaxants, opiods and antidepressants.

Some chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments can also cause dry mouth.

Symptoms of dry mouth

These can include a sticky, dry, or burning feeling in the mouth; trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking; a dry or sore throat; a dry, rough tongue; hoarseness; halitosis (bad breath); and even mouth sores. Having a dry mouth also increases your risk of developing dental decay and gum disease.

But what can be done about this uncomfortable yet often ignored condition?

Some advice for a person with xerostomia is to sip water frequently, especially after meals, and after taking medications. They should also limit food and drinks that contribute to dry mouth, such as sugary food or drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol as well as dry, salty or spicy foods. Using mouthwash that contains alcohol is also not recommended.

Speak to your healthcare professional about products available specifically for dry mouth.

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