Dry mouth

    A dry mouth is rarely a sign of anything serious. There are things you can do to help ease it yourself. See a GP if these don't work or you also have other symptoms.


    Causes of a dry mouth

    The main causes of a dry mouth are:

    • dehydration – for example, from not drinking enough, sweating a lot or being ill
    • medicines – check the leaflet or search for your medicine online to see if dry mouth is a side effect
    • breathing through your mouth at night – this can happen if you have a blocked nose or you sleep with your mouth open
    • anxiety
    • cancer treatment (radiotherapy or chemotherapy)

    Sometimes a dry mouth that doesn't go away may be caused by a condition like diabetes or Sjögren's syndrome.

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    How to help ease a dry mouth yourself

    Do

    • drink plenty of water – take regular sips during the day and keep some water by your bed at night
    • suck on ice cubes or ice lollies
    • chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free sweets
    • use lip balm if your lips are also dry
    • brush your teeth twice a day and use alcohol-free mouthwash – you're more likely to get tooth decay if you have a dry mouth

    Don't

    • do not drink lots of alcohol, caffeine (such as tea and coffee) or fizzy drinks
    • do not have foods that are acidic (like lemons), spicy, salty or sugary
    • do not smoke
    • do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first – even if you think it might be causing your symptoms

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    A pharmacist can help if you have a dry mouth

    Ask a pharmacist about treatments you can buy to help keep your mouth moist.

    You can get:

    • gels
    • sprays
    • tablets or lozenges

    Not all products are suitable for everyone. Ask a pharmacist for advice about the best one for you.

    If your dry mouth might be caused by a blocked nose, a pharmacist may suggest decongestants to unblock it.

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    When to get medical help

    See a GP if:

    • your mouth is still dry after trying home or pharmacy treatments for a few weeks
    • you have difficulty chewing, swallowing or talking
    • your mouth is painful, red or swollen
    • you have sore white patches in your mouth
    • you think a prescribed medicine might be causing your dry mouth
    • you have other symptoms, like needing to pee a lot or dry eyes

    They can check what the cause might be and recommend treatment for it.

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